How to spot a fake giveaway

Fake giveaways are one of the oldest and most common online scams. They usually start with a text, email, or social media post that promises a cash reward or an expensive prize in exchange for a small fee or sharing some personal info.

Scammers often make fake giveaways look pretty convincing or pretend to be a real, reputable business, which can make them even tougher to spot. When you know how to tell the difference between a giveaway scam and a legit sweepstakes, you can keep yourself and your money safe.

How to tell if a sweepstakes is legit

It can be tricky to spot fake giveaways and sweepstake scams, especially on social media platforms. To make their scams look more legit, scammers might create fake profiles or websites that use logos, colors, or brands that you recognize. When you know what to focus on, it’s much easier to spot giveaway scams right when you see them.

  1. Pay to participate: Sweepstakes that require a purchase to participate are illegal in the U.S. If you're asked to pay to enter a sweepstakes or claim a prize, it’s probably a scam.
  2. Fake or incorrect website: Scammers often create fake websites with addresses that are similar to legit websites, but have small differences. They’re often one letter off. For example, the address could be “cash.ap” instead of “cash.app.”
  3. Require sensitive account info: Real giveaways usually don’t require you to provide personal info, like your username, password, or PIN. If something feels off, it probably is.
  4. Pressure to act fast: Giveaways can be a fun way for companies to engage with their customers—but sweepstakes that pressure you to act quickly, pay a fee, or add personal info “right now” are a big red flag.
  5. Misspellings or bad grammar: Companies care about their brand and image, so they put a lot of effort into their sweepstakes. Obvious mistakes are a common sign of many different types of scams.
Giveaway scams take your money or info with no prize.

How to avoid giveaway scams

Even when you know how to spot a scam, follow these tips to avoid giveaway scams and keep your money safe.

Check the source
Before entering a giveaway, double check where it’s from. If it’s from an unverified social media profile, a direct message, or a website you don’t recognize, it’s probably a scam. In general, avoid links in messages from people you don’t know that invite you to enter a giveaway. 

If it’s a real giveaway, you can search for it yourself or verify on the company’s official social media accounts. Also, a real sweepstakes is required to have terms and conditions for entering, which you should be able to find online. Taking a minute to search for the giveaway yourself can help keep you safe from this scam. 

Remember, Cash App will only announce giveaways on our official website (cash.app) or verified social media accounts:

Instagram: @CashApp
Twitter: @CashApp
TikTok: @CashApp
Twitch: twitch.tv/CashApp
Reddit: u/CashAppAndi
Facebook: SquareCash

If you receive a giveaway email, it’s important to check the email address it’s sent from. Giveaway-related emails from Cash App come from email addresses ending with the following domains:

  • @square.com
  • @squareup.com
  • @cash.app

Trust your instincts
Real giveaways don’t ask you to pay money to enter. Also, legit sweepstakes and giveaways don’t require sensitive info, like your Social Security number, driver’s license details, username, password, PIN, or login codes. 

If a giveaway doesn’t feel right or like it’s asking for too much information that shouldn’t be needed, stop right away. Trust your instincts to know when an offer feels wrong so you can protect your personal info and money.

Add extra layers of security
Your personal information is valuable. It’s important to use security tools on your devices, accounts, and apps, especially ones that involve your money, like Cash App. 

Adding extra security, like 2-factor authentication or new device alerts, and always using strong passwords can help keep you safe. Using a unique password for each financial and social media account can help keep your accounts safe.

To keep your account secure, Cash App has a number of security features that make it a safe place for your money: 

  • Security Lock: Add an extra layer of protection by requiring your fingerprint, face, or PIN to send money. 
  • Encryption: Cash App uses cutting-edge encryption and fraud detection to keep your data and money secure.
  • Lock card: If you ever need to, you can lock your card with a tap in the app to prevent transactions from going through.
  • Account notifications: Get push, email, and text notifications about any suspicious activity so you can review them right away.
  • Identity verification: Cash App makes sure you’re really you in order to help protect your account and keeps the app safe for everyone.
  • Fraud protection: If something happens, you can file a claim with Cash App. Our support team can help reverse fraudulent activity with supporting documentation.

What to do after a giveaway scam

If you were scammed by a fake giveaway, you’re not alone. Even when you know how to tell if a sweepstakes is legit, scammers make these giveaways very convincing. Protecting yourself is an important next step to prevent a scam like this from happening again.

  1. Report the scam: If you were scammed on social media or sent money through your bank or payment app, contact their customer support to report what happened. Include all the details you can, including any identifying information you have about the scammer, like their username or profile.
  2. Change your passwords: Update your passwords and security details for any accounts you might’ve entered on the giveaway. Also, if you accidentally click on a phishing link, it’s a good idea to change the passwords to your email, social media, and financial accounts as soon as possible. 
  3. Monitor your accounts: Look out for any unusual transactions on your bank and credit card statements. The quicker you report any suspicious activity, the better the chances you can reverse it.
  4. Notify your bank: Contact your bank or credit card company if you've shared your account number, Social Security number, or login info with the scammer. They can take additional steps to secure your account.

Keep your money safe with Cash App

Knowing how to identify giveaway scams is one of the best ways to avoid them so they don’t happen to you. If something doesn’t feel right, it’s important to trust your instincts and know when something sounds too good to be true.

To add additional layers of security for you and your money, Cash App uses advanced encryption and security features that power and protect every account. By asking you to confirm payments before sending money to someone new and notifying you if your security settings change, we’re here to help you stay safe and catch scams like these before they happen.