Free Gift Card Scams Hit Facebook

Last week, your devoted Switched writer was, himself, hit with one of these new, fraudulent Facebook gift card invites — in the form of a promised $500 certificate to Whole Foods (sent from a trusted friend, no less). Amateur gastronome that he is, his common sense was momentarily besieged by the promise of no-strings organic produce. Thankfully, though, after noticing that the invite demanded to be forwarded to all his Facebook friends (before redirecting to a survey page), your writer’s wits returned. A quick search netted some tweets by the WF honchos, confirming that this was indeed a scam. Close tab.

The thing that your writer forgot, and something we should all know, is that no company will hand out gifts that large for simply becoming a Facebook fan. And yet these scams are spawning like Tribbles, promising $1,000 gift cards for companies like Best Buy and Ikea. But it’s tricky for Facebook to separate the wheat from the chaff, because some businesses do offer giveaways through their Facebook accounts. Simon Axten, a spokesman for Facebook, told SFGate that the company is working toward a solution to the problem, saying that it’s “building an automated system to detect this type of suspicious content and behavior more quickly before it’s even reported.”

Even so, the problem has not been solved, and probably won’t be in the near future. Facebook users should exercise the same caution they should’ve been exercising in the past, but be wary of offers that sounds too good to be true — even if they’re extended by friends. Pages dedicated to a single offer are a sure tip-off, as are mangy graphics, which might suggest it’s not coming from a big retailer’s marketing team. And anything that sounds like a chain letter (e.g., “Forward this to all of your friends.”) is definitely suspicious, as are long surveys that serve only to collect your personal information. Keep vigilant, Facebookers, and don’t make the same mistakes your writer almost has. [From: SFGate]

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