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Scam Alert: Deep Discounts and Phony Prizes on Social Media

Tue, 11/21/2023

COLUMBIA, S.C. –Scammers flood social media during the holidays as they try to entice shoppers to hand over cash and personal information. According to the Federal Trade Commission, one in four people who reported losing money to fraud since 2021 said it started on social media. Scammers often create accounts, websites or online advertisements that look like a legitimate business promising a great deal or a free prize.

The South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs (SCDCA) encourages everyone to take time as you scroll online and know how to spot and avoid online prize and shopping scams:

  • If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Be wary of deeply discounted prices, especially when you see promotions on social media. Look up reviews online and check other retailers for price comparisons.
  • Be skeptical of giveaways and prizes! Verify the promotion is real before clicking links. Go to the company’s website or use their official email address to find out if a promotion is legit. If someone claims they need information like a credit card number to get a free prize, it’s likely a fake.
  • Don't be fooled by a good-looking website. Just because a website looks good doesn't mean it's real. Websites are easy to create, and scammers often use a name similar to a real business. Search online for reviews and complaints of the site. Before providing any personal or financial information, look for a closed padlock icon and Uniform Resource Locator (URL) that begins with "https:" instead of "http.”
  • Use a credit card, not a debit card, for online purchases. There are laws to limit your liability for fraudulent credit card charges, but you may not have the same level of protection for your debit cards. Keep a record of your purchases and copies of confirmation pages and compare them to your bank statements. If there is an error, report it immediately.

Victim of a scam? File a scam report with SCDCA. Call (800) 922-1594 or visit and click the How Do I… button, then Report a Scam. Also notify your financial institution and any payment service apps used in the transaction.


Established in 1974, DCA has nearly fifty years of experience in protecting South Carolina consumers while recognizing those businesses that act honestly and fairly. Cultivating a marketplace comprised of well-informed consumers and businesses prevents deceptive and unfair business practices, allows legitimate business activity to flourish, resulting in the promotion of competition and a healthier economy.