Watch out for Free Gift Cards on Pinterest – Phishers are making money at your expense
Who doesn’t like free stuff? I remember as a kid I was always fascinated by the free toy I could receive in my “Fruit Loops” cereal box. Today, free merchandise is far more complicated. Social media marketing has become a staple for many businesses. With the rise of new social media marketing tools like Facebook, Twitter and most recently, Pinterest, we have seen a rise in newly targeted internet threats. We’ve already seen the “freebee scams” on Facebook and we all knew it wouldn’t take long for Pinterest users to fall victim to these scams. Pinterest is skyrocketing, with approximately 13 million users experts say that it is driving more traffic to retail sites than LinkedIn, YouTube and Google+ combined.
So, how does Pinterest work and how can we protect ourselves from scams?
Pinterest works like a virtual bulletin board, allowing you to grab images from the web by using the “pin it’ bookmark tool, which then gets published onto your Pinterest board. The catch here is that these images are sometimes linked to outside websites which make it very easy for Phishers to launch a scam and steal personal information. The most recent scam seen on Pinterest was the Starbucks coupon scam which didn’t seem to install malware but was offering a “free gift” in exchange for a survey. The coupon image shows the Starbucks logo and illustrates a caption “Starbucks is giving away free gift cards to all Pinterest users” asking user to re-pin the image and then redirects them to a survey scam site. Starbucks wasn’t the only one giving away a so called “freebee.” The luxury Coach brand also saw a similar scam.
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Basically, Pinterest is not responsible for any links leading to malicious websites. This again focuses our attention on user responsibility. Pinners, keep your eyes open, avoid filling out surveys and be extra careful when re-pinning content.
To PIN or NOT
- Click with caution! If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is
- Be extra cautious when clicking on images giving out freebies. If the logo or image points to a third party URL, DO NOT “re-pin” it. A real Freebee should redirect users to the OFFICIAL company website
- If you see a suspicious pinned image, use the “Report Pin” button to flag the image as spam
- Bring awareness to fake scams, freebees on Pinterest by sharing via Twitter, Facebook, blogs etc.
- Free stuff doesn’t mean you have to give out personal financial information, NEVER reveal such information
Cybercriminals are using the image, logo and names of legitimate brands to entice users to click on “freebee coupons” and possibly land them on a phishing page. The prominence of the Internet has allowed consumers and cybercriminals to become more empowered. Brand reputation is community-driven and it is enhanced by consumer interaction. For example, a good Tweet or a constant “pin” of your brand can very well drive more traffic to your website. Positive consumer interaction online = better brand awareness. However, when a brand is linked to an internet scam there is a negative connotation towards the brand itself. This is where brand reputation comes in. Monitoring your brand using a social media monitoring tool can mitigate a scam targeting your brand and most importantly you can inform your customers right away. The sooner you get a hold of what people are saying about your brand or how your brand (logo’s, images, trademarks) are being used online, the better prepared you will be about how to respond and manage these types of incidents.