This Whatsapp Adidas giveaway doesn’t have a leg to stand on

If I make it to 93 – and my grandmother turns 97 this year, so you never know, maybe I will – I shall definitely celebrate, but I’m not a multinational sports shoe manufacturer. What I mean is, large corporations, national institutions and monarchs usually trumpet about the big birthdays. You know, they get out the flags for round numbers like 50 or 75, so it strikes me as rather odd that Adidas has chosen to celebrate 93 years in business.

Or at least according to a current promotion on WhatsApp it has and, what’s more, this anniversary is being marked by a great giveaway. Yes, free trainers! There are apparently 3000 boxfresh pairs of them are on offer, but sadly my advice is to put as much distance as you can between yourself and this promotion, because, of course, it’s a scam. Sneaky, huh?

To claim your prize, you’re asked to go to what looks like a plausible web address, where, I believe, you’ll be asked to complete a survey. I say I believe because I must confess I haven’t actually done this myself. I may be a SCAMbassador, committed to highlighting scam prize draws and fighting scammers the world over, but this is very likely a phishing scam and there’s no way I’m going to put my personal data at risk. That would be shooting myself in the foot (I’m wearing Adidas Stan Smith’s, in case you’re wondering). I like to keep my financial information and passwords private, thank you very much, and you should, too.

If you’re not sure whether a communication is a scam or not – and they can be far more sophisticated than this one – check it out by another route. it’s always worth going to the company’s legitimate website, Googling it or checking a channel like Twitter for information. In this case, in reply to an enquiry from a member of the public, Adidas UK tweeted, “Hi there, thanks for flagging, but that giveaway is not affiliated with adidas.”

That’s a nice, clear response, isn’t it, and most businesses will be glad to set the record straight, because a scam like this can not only cause genuine distress and financial loss – or just an overload of spam – to people who fall for it, but it can damage a company’s reputation too. I can only tell you – and I’m going to dig my heels in on this – don’t respond, don’t forward this scam and tell your friends and family not to respond or forward it either. You can also report scams to Action Fraud, via its online fraud reporting tool.

The better news is that several websites are reporting that WhatsApp has been testing a feature to alert users to the fact that they are about to send on a message that has been forwarded many times. It’s unclear whether this will be officially rolled out or not, but if it is it should hopefully reduce the volume of scams and indeed chain messages in circulation – and I for one am very keen to see the scammers run out of town.

Sarah Burns is Prizeology’s Chief Prizeologist and a National Trading Standards Scams Team Scambassador. She also has a very large trainer collection.

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