How the scam works
You see a post on social media, get an email, or take a survey that says you won a $500 gas station gift card. Currently, the scam claims to be from Shell, but watch out for scammers using different gas station brands too.
To get the gift card, you only need to pay a small fee. But when scammers get your credit or debit card information, they will likely charge your account for amounts you never approved. One consumer told BBB Scam Tracker: “They said I won a Shell gas card and had to pay $1.95 for shipping. A day later, they took $89.95 out of my account. I called about the charge, and they fixed it, but the next day, another $89.95 was taken out again.”
In addition to your credit card information, the scam may also request other personal details. Some consumers say they were asked to fill out a form and provide their name, phone number, physical address, credit card information, and other details. Sharing these details with scammers can open you up to identity theft.
How to avoid prize scams
- Never pay to win. No legitimate company will ask you to pay money to receive something you won or to get a free gift. If someone asks you to pay even a small fee to receive a prize, you’re probably dealing with a scammer.
- Do your research. Impostor scams are common, so if a large company seems to be offering you a free gift, do some research first. Visit the company’s official website (by typing it into your web browser, not by following a link someone sent you) to see if they really are participating in some kind of giveaway.
- Don’t act on impulse. Scammers are hoping you’ll get so excited about their offer that you won’t stop thinking about any suspicious details. Use your good judgment and question any offer that seems too good to be true.
For more information
Check out this article for examples of the scam and an official statement from Shell. For more helpful tips, see the BBB Tip: Sweepstakes, Lottery, and Prize Scams and read this tip about text message phishing scams.
If you notice a scam circulating on Facebook or elsewhere, report it to BBB.org/ScamTracker. Your report can help others recognize the danger.