BBB Scam Alert: Snapchat users targeted by risky spam messages

snapchatluckyBeware of the “something for nothing” offer. Whether by phone, email or text message, scam artists have been using that offer as bait for a long time.

Now the social media app called Snapchat–popular with teens and young adults that lets people send pics and videos that vanish after viewing–is being targeted.

BBB reports that messages have been popping up in Snapchat that could lead to a wave of spam or even a virus.

How the scam works: 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 are told to visit a website listed in the graphic. 

If you visit the website, you are asked to “confirm your username.” If you enter your name and click finish, you find that you’re not done. The next page asks you to choose from a list of smartphone apps and download one. Then you can supposedly claim your prize.

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 tells you that to win a prize, you must choose from a list of smartphone apps and download one.

Don’t do it! Downloading apps outside the official stores for your smartphone opens you up to a potential virus infection.

How to protect yourself from a Snapchat sweepstakes scam: 

  • 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. If you’ve been selected as a “winner” for a contest you have never heard of, that’s a major red flag.
  • Change your settings: Set Snapchat so you can only receive snaps from those on your friends list. This will block most spam. Check here for instructions.
  • Report spam accounts. Report spam and hacked accounts to Snapchat.
  • Use official app stores. Be sure to download apps through the official app store on your phone, not alternative markets.
  • Don’t click links sent by strangers. Beware of unexpected texts, emails and other messages with links or attachments. Never click on links or open files from unfamiliar sources.