As you all may be aware, Country Allure has been targeted multiple times by scammers and hackers on both Facebook and Instagram.
We have on many occasions spread the word about this, but to no avail. Our customers and viewers keep falling for these people's tricks and aren't listening to our posts. So this week's blog will be focusing on this issue, and hopefully will clear it up for everyone. The focal points will be four W's and a H. Who, what, when, why, and how.
Over the last 12 months, small Australian businesses of all types, but predominantly online retail, have been targeted by people overseas in an attempt to scam and steal from our customers and viewers.
This is by making fake accounts of our businesses claiming to be us, and trying to attract the attention of our customers. They use our logo, photos and name so it looks like us. It can look very convincing if you don't know any better.
They get the attention by following and friend requesting people who follow/like our page, and will message them saying that they have won one of our competitions.
They will message you to say that they need you to click a link, register your personal details and enter your credit card information, so they can send you 'your prize'. But this is just a scam! This whole thing is just to get your credit card information! There is no prize for you, you haven't actually won anything. They will then steal your money by making fraudulent payments and transactions. They also get all of your personal information, which means that they have the information to potentially hack into your banking, email, business accounts, social media accounts, etc. If they can steal money from it, they will try. These are hackers and scammers we are talking about, they are incredibly stupid but incredibly smart.
So now we roughly know WHO they are, WHAT they do and HOW they do it. Let's now go over some other focal points, and then some ways to detect a fraudulent page.
First of all, we as Country Allure, have only ONE Facebook account, ONE Facebook VIP group and ONE Instagram account. That is it.
There are NO other accounts that we own, run or monitor. Nor will we be making any additional accounts. No other account is ours.
Our employees have their own personal social media accounts, but present as their own identity, not Country Allure as the business.
Businesses actually do not have the option to have either a personal profile or a business page. Businesses are not allowed to have add'able accounts, meaning you CANNOT send friend requests to them. This is Facebook's rules. Like how you can't send a friend request to celebrities. We are a page, not a profile. So if you get a friend request from a business; there's a high chance that it's actually a fake profile.
When a scammer makes a fake account that pretends to be us, we unfortunately have no control over it. We aren't able to delete the account or do anything about it. So we rely on our supporters reporting the accounts to Facebook/Instagram by listing them as a scam/fraud, fake account etc and hoping that Facebook/Instagram do their job and remove the account for us.
In saying that, if you do fall for one of these scams and give your credit card details or personal details to these people, there is still unfortunately nothing we can do. We don't have access to anything from these scam accounts. We can't make or force them to delete anything either. We have no affiliation or connection to them. If this happens to you, you need to escalate it further by taking it to the police and your bank.
So, you know you need to be diligent, but how? How can you tell if a page is real or fake?
- The name could be spelt different (eg Counttry Aluree)
- Their bio says something about 'selecting contest/competition winners'
- They only have one or two posts
- The account is only hours or days old
- They make lots of spelling and grammar errors (English generally isn't their first language)
- They ask you to click a link
- They send a friend request
- They randomly send you a message (We never do this!)
- They ask you for personal details
- They ask you for credit card information
Now some points.
We will NEVER randomly message you out of the blue. If we engage with you on social media via comments and wish to discuss something privately, we will always ask you to message us. We won't message you directly first.
We will NEVER ask for your credit card information. Never ever. We have no reason to ever know this information, and you should never give it to ANYBODY that you don't know or trust. The only time anything to do with a credit card would come up with Country Allure, would be during checkout on our website, but that is not us asking for this information personally. Any card payment information entered on our websites checkout is not stored nor is it accessible to us all.
When we host a giveaway or competition, we would NEVER expect the winner to pay postage. If you have won something, it means getting the item for free. So we will never ask you to pay for anything to receive a prize. That’s ridiculous!
We never use third party links or sites. This means we will never send you to a forum outside of our website to enter your personal information. Any information you give us will only ever be either in person, over the phone, on our website, via our email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or via our authorised social media pages.
Basically in short, there is no other Country Allure page other than us. So don't fall for it. If we do by chance in the future need to make another profile (i don't honestly see why we would but just as a hypothetical) then we would blow up our existing pages with this information and send out emails, newsletters and notify our customers and viewers.
Also, we have to mention this. When there is a scam account (I say when because we have lost count on how many there have been previously, so it’s bound to happen again unfortunately), we find that our inboxes get full VERY quickly with everyone messaging us, telling us about the scam account.
We understand and so truly appreciate everyone wanting to help us out by informing us, but we are super on top of this - all the time. And so generally after the 20th message, we are pretty tensed up. After the 50th, we are over it. After the 100th, we are pretty annoyed. After the 200th, we are hitting our heads against a brick wall. And i'm sure you understand where i'm coming from. As soon as we hear about these accounts, the first thing we do is post on our social media to alert our followers and customers. We post on our wall, on our stories and even do a live video sometimes. So PLEASE, before you message us, please check our pages to make sure that we haven't already mentioned it. But if you check and we haven't posted anything about it, then by means - please absolutely contact us to let us know!
We hope you have learned something today, so you not only know how to avoid fake Country Allure pages, but also fake scam pages in general. We don't want anybody falling into the traps of these scammers, because we have seen how devastating it can be.
If you need any help with reporting these fake and scam accounts, or if you have any questions or would like any further information, please don't hesitate to contact us on our social pages and we will endeavour to help you out.
Signing off for now,