A screengrab from a website promising a PlayStation 4 raffle.
Consumers are excited about the next generation of gaming consoles, but scammers are even more excited. Sony's PlayStation 4 launched last week, Microsoft's Xbox One will launch this week — and a deluge of scams taking advantage of the new consoles have launched as well.
The scams come from a variety of sources, reports the Security Intelligence Blog of Tokyo-based antivirus firm Trend Micro, but many of the scams appear on Facebook. Scammers create fan pages that promise raffles for free Xbox Ones and PS4s, then invite users to like and share these pages.
After following the page, users receive a link to visit a website to enter the contest. Instead of receiving a raffle ticket, however, they receive links to some run-of-the-mill survey scam sites.
These survey scams encourage users to share personal contact information, which the scammers can then sell to dodgy online marketers. Some of the scams trick users into entering their mobile phone numbers (which are sold to premium-message scammers), or even into downloading malicious software that masquerades as a necessary part of the survey process.
Spotting the scams is easy, although approximately 2,000 people have liked the bogus PS4 page, so perhaps greed is overcoming common sense. While some legitimate businesses have indeed raffled off PS4s and Xbox Ones, none of them has been a no-name survey site.
If you see a PS4 or Xbox One giveaway on Facebook, assume it is a scam unless it comes from a well-known organization. Even then, double-check the organization's Facebook page and website to ensure that it's a legitimate giveaway. If not, forget about it.
If you follow an Xbox or PS4 giveaway link and find yourself at a survey page advertising options such as "Locate your friends with your phone!" or "Find out your body's age!," you can safely assume that the giveaway is bogus. While you may have to jump through a few hoops to enter a legitimate raffle, wading through bog-standard Internet spam will not be one of them.
Finally, legitimate organizations will not ask you to download shifty software in order to participate in a raffle. Real businesses may ask users to participate through Facebook or mobile apps, but if you find yourself at third-party download sites, needing to complete surveys in order to download software, you can close the page with confidence (and run a malware sweep, to be safe).
If you do find yourself on the receiving end of one of these scams, don't worry about it too much. A standard anti-malware scan will eliminate whatever junk the scammers put on your computer. Changing your password on whatever email address you shared might be a good idea, too.
You may be lucky enough to win a PS4 or an Xbox One in a contest, but the odds are against it and cybercriminals are willing to take advantage of your desire to do so. It's probably safer to just shell out a few hundred bucks and enjoy your new system.