Scamwatch: theme park fraud

Don't be fooled by this social media ticket scam...

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Stay one step ahead of the fraudsters with our series of articles giving you the lowdown on the scams they use to trick people out of their hard-earned cash - and how to avoid being taken in by them.

This week, we lift the lid on a new theme park ticket scam aimed at parents looking to entertain their kids for less this summer.

How does it work?

Theme park Alton Towers has issued a warning about a social media "free ticket" scam that is doing the rounds this summer.

The scam offer, which has been circulating on Facebook, claims that respondents can receive five free tickets for the attraction. All they have to do to claim their tickets is fill out an online questionnaire.

However, the offer is not genuine, leading to fears the con artists behind it are using the questionnaire link to attack people's devices with malicious software and/or gather information about consumers for fraudulent purposes.

Alton Towers said: "We have been made aware of a social media scam offering free tickets to Alton Towers Resort that is currently circulating on Facebook.

"This is NOT an official offer or affiliated to Alton Towers Resort in any way."

How can I avoid being caught out?

Unfortunately, there are now so many scams out there that online surveys and competitions that require you to click on a link or enter your personal details should always be treated with caution.

The best way to avoid being taken in by a bogus offer such as the Alton Towers one described above is therefore to check it's genuine with the company or organisation supposedly running the offer before getting involved.

"Anyone unsure about the legitimacy of a social media competition relating to Alton Towers Resort should contact us immediately," Alton Towers said.

It also pays to be wary if you see cut-price tickets for theme parks for sale on auction websites.

When The Sun newspaper gave out free tickets to Legoland a few years ago, some of those sold on by eBay users turned out to be invalid because they were marked "Not for resale".

I've been defrauded. What should I do?

If you think your computer, tablet or mobile phone may have been affected by malware, it makes sense to check it using an online virus scanner, such as the Microsoft Safety Scanner.

You should also change any passwords and login details that may have been compromised.

Finally, report the scam to the theme park concerned, and to the police via Action Fraud (0300 123 2040).

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