You wouldn’t believe it but there is actually a connection between Facebook, free gift cards and identity theft and unfortunately it’s one big fat scam.
The scam involves someone on your friends list posting a link on your wall telling you about an offer to join a group or click on a link and you will receive a free gift card from a big retailer like Best Buy or IKEA. The IKEA gift card is for $1000.00 which to me is a dead giveaway. Why would IKEA be giving away gift cards for a grand on Facebook? Well, whatever. If you just look at the message or it’s on your wall, you’re fine. You haven’t been duped and none of your information has been stolen.
The problem occurs when people click on a link that takes them to a third party site and asks for tons of personal information including debit and credit card numbers. I can see people falling for this under the assumption that the information is needed to receive the gift card. Unfortunately, this is a way for the scammers to get all of your personal information and steal your identity. Usually, you will then be directed to the retailer’s real website, making you think it’s legitimate and you are on your way to receiving your free gift card, but by then the thieves have all of the information they need anyway so it doesn’t matter.
Facebook Security is working on cleaning up these pages and accounts that are responsible, but in the meantime, people should always, even on Facebook, remember this rule of thumb: If it sounds to good to be true, it probably is. Especially on Facebook. Don’t click on any suspicious links or messages and with most scams, if there is poor grammar and misspelled words in the promotion, it’s almost definitely not legitimate. Companies pay big money to people to insure that their ads and promos are grammatically correct. They’re not going to send one out that looks like it’s been thrown together by a first grader.
Identity thieves will also hack people’s accounts and send messages or links making you think it’s from your best friend or sister, because after all, if they sent it to me, it must be legit, right? Even if it is from someone you know well, it doesn’t mean that they were not duped. There are no free thousand dollar gift cards from IKEA or Best Buy or Apple. I’m sorry. I know this is going to hurt a lot of hearts to find out that you can’t trust Facebook, but save yourself some trouble and protect your identity.