Everyone loves getting something for nothing, and scammers have been cashing in on that desire for a long time through phone, email, text message... and now the new social media app Snapchat. Snapchat is popular with teens and young adults for its ability to send photos and videos that vanish after viewing.
Better Business Bureau’s Dale Dixon joined Good Morning Idaho to talk about the new con. We wanted to know first, how does the scam work?
Says Dixon, "You use Snapchat to stay in touch with friends. One day, you get a snap, or visual message, from a user you don't recognize. The snap is a graphic saying you are 'Today's Winner.' To claim your prize, you need to visit the website listed. You go to the site, and the homepage prompts you to 'confirm your username.' You enter your name and click the 'finish' button. But when the next page loads, you realize that you aren't done. The next webpage instructs you to choose from a list of smartphone apps and download one. After you do so, then you can supposedly claim your prize."
For the scam artist, the end game could be that it's just an unscrupulous way to generate app downloads. But downloading apps outside official stores opens you up to infecting your phone with a virus.
This is also a good conversation for parents to have with kids about not doing dumb things with a smart-phone. Remember, you can't win a contest you didn't enter: You need to buy a ticket or complete an application to enter a contest or lottery. Be very careful if you've been selected as a winner for a contest you have never heard of.
Here are some simple things you can do to make sure you stay safe:
- Change your settings: Set Snapchat so you can only receive snaps from those on your friends list. This will block most spam.
- Report spam accounts. Report spam and hacked accounts to Snapchat.
- Use only official app stores. Be sure to download apps through the official app store on your phone, not alternative markets.
- Be wary of unexpected texts, emails and other messages that contain links or attachments. Never click on links or open files from unfamiliar sources.
BBB has a number of resources to help you protect your identity and money. Find more at their website here.