The Most Common iPad Scams and How to Avoid Them

Be safe and don't get fooled online

A person with a credit card and an iPad

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Anytime a new gadget comes out that is in high demand, a wide assortment of scams involving it also emerge. And the iPad is no exception. The iPad is a dream come true for many scam artists, with entire companies built around the hype of products like the iPad to con people out of their money. There's even one potential issue built right into the iPad. Luckily, you can avoid most of these ruses once you learn how to recognize them.

Free iPad Giveaway

By far the most common scam is the fake giveaway. Some legitimate offers of free iPads exist, but they aren't the norm. Apple doesn't like giveaways using their products and has strict guidelines about them, including a restriction that "free" not be used prominently in any display of the contest. So anytime you see "free iPad" posted in bold letters, it's a scam.

Part of the process of claiming your "free iPad" might involve filling out forms, inviting other people to take advantage of the "offer," and possibly even downloading software to your computer or phone. The least harmful consequence is that the scammers will sell your information, and you'll get a bunch of spam emails. But it could also be a means to gain access to your computer and cause even more damage.

The best way to avoid falling for this is to never participate in one of these giveaways. But if you absolutely must, and you believe a deal is legitimate because it comes from a well-known company, always go to the company's website directly by typing it into your web browser. Do not click on a link from an email, Facebook update, or Twitter post, no matter how official it looks.

The iOS Crash Report and Call Tech Support Scam

A common fraud that appears while you're using the iPad is the "call tech support" scam. In this case, a webpage pops up a message claiming there is a virus on your iPad or that your iPad's configuration is causing a bug. It asks you to call a phone number for tech support. Once they have you on the phone, scammers can either ask for credit card information or lead you to fake websites to trick you into giving up personal information. 

One popular variant of this scam is the "iOS Crash Report." In this version, a pop-up message informs you that your iPad has crashed, and you must call Apple Technical Support to get it fixed. The number doesn't connect to Apple.

This scam takes many forms and doesn't always use a pop-up menu. And sometimes, the website will keep popping up the message when you attempt to leave, forcing you to quit out of Safari manually.  

Anytime someone claiming to be from Apple tells you to contact tech support, especially if you receive the instructions from an email or website, you should dismiss it. However, if you do believe there is a problem and want to call to check, you should always use the phone numbers from Apple's website.

Never follow a link to Apple's website. Instead, type in "apple.com" into your web address bar and go there directly. You can also reach Apple tech support at 1-800-694-7466.

If you receive a request to call a tech support line from a third-party website, or tech support calls you out of the blue, you should ignore the request. But if you want to respond, go to the company's official website to find the tech support department's actual contact information.

Test Our Product and Get a Free iPad

Another version of the iPad Giveaway scam is the offer of a free iPad after doing some testing. The testing could be on an app -- including apps for popular websites like Twitter or Yahoo -- or an expensive accessory.

But "product testing" is just another giveaway scam with a different delivery system. The first scam of this nature popped up around the same time the iPad was making its debut, with Facebook pages being created urging users to beta test the new Facebook app and keep the free iPad.

Anti-Virus Software for the iPad

Apple has cracked down on claims of anti-virus software in the App Store, so this isn't as much of an issue. But some apps still advertise themselves in a way to make you think you need their protection. The iPad is incapable of getting an actual virus. The way a computer virus spreads is by jumping from one piece of software to another one on your PC and altering them. The iPad's architecture doesn't allow one app to modify another app, so it's safe.  

The iPad isn't impervious to malware, however. It's difficult for harmful software to slip through the screening process of the App Store, and when it does, Apple removes it reasonably quickly. However, other types of malware can come to your iPad in the form of malicious websites or links in an email that leads to one of these websites. 

Penny Auction Sites

Have you seen those advertisements that promise an iPad for $24.13? If you thought it was too good to be true, you are correct. Penny auction sites are a relatively new scam that works similar to a pyramid scheme without the pyramid.

Each time you bid on one of these platforms, it costs you money. So while that iPad may eventually sell for a low amount, the amount of money the auction site collected on bid fees could be in the thousands of dollars. One of the most profitable areas for these companies is auctioning off a book of bids whereby a coupon for 50 bids might fetch them several hundred dollars.

Anytime you have such a vast difference in the amount of money going to the site compared to the actual retail price of what they are selling, you most likely going to spend much more money than the product is worth.