How to determine if social media ads are real or fake

(InvestigateTV) — The Federal Trade Commission says social media can be a gold mine for fraudsters.

Scams on those platforms have skyrocketed in recent years, and in 2022, consumers lost more money through social media than any other method of contact.

While steps have been taken on the federal level to help protect your information, InvestigateTV has gathered a few ways you can inspect ads to decide if you think what you’re seeing is the real deal.

First, check out the photos in the ads carefully. Are there signs the picture might be photoshopped?

That’s a red flag.

Check to see if the page is verified by the social media platform. On Facebook, there’s a little blue check mark.

Click on the page name on the ad and poke around a little bit. You might check for contact information and do some scrolling through the posts or the photos to see if it looks like a legitimate business.

You can also check the page transparency section on Facebook to see when a page was created and where the page admins live.

Look for comments from both upset and happy customers, especially if they have pictures of the product. It’s also good to click on the reviewer’s profile to make sure they aren’t fake too.

Go online and search for the name of the storefront. Sometimes you’ll find a website, a news story, or a user review that’ll let you know whether what you’re seeing is legitimate or not.

Be aware that sometimes companies will put up their own fake reviews too.

Finally, check the company’s website to see if there’s a physical address or where the product is shipping fro If you’re in a hurry, overseas shipping might take too long.

Also, if there’s an issue, sometimes it can be harder to resolve with a company outside the United States.

By the way, the FTC isn’t too happy about this problem. The agency ordered platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, to provide information on how they restrict ads that are deceptive or expose consumers to fake products or scams.

Joce Sterman

Joce Sterman

Joce is a national investigative reporter focused on accountability reporting on the failures of government agencies, product flaws and other transparency issues.

Jamie Grey

Jamie Grey

Jamie is InvestigateTV's managing editor. She coordinates content and produces stories with a particular passion for digging into government programs and waste, health care policy and education.