The gift card hoax that won’t quit

The Consumerist reports that a recent Facebook hoax involving IKEA gift cards has attracted nearly 40,000 members. Not only is this number way too large, but it was the third scam to go viral on Facebook in March. That’s three similar scams in just one month.

If you don’t know already, either by falling victim to a scam or reading about on  this blog, these Facebook scams work by promising free gift cards to a popular store. In this specific instance, it was IKEA, but I’ve seen them for everything from Wal-Mart to Applebee’s. When you click on the link, you’re sent to another site where you’re prompted to enter your personal information to receive the card. Now, in this specific scam, the victims were sent to a NetFlix page. Before you believe that NetFlix has anything to do with this scam, though, you have to understand that tons of online companies pay other organizations for signing people up for their services.

In all likeliness, this IKEA gift card hoax had nothing to do with either IKEA or NetFlix. Instead, it was perpetrated by someone who gets paid for signing people up for NetFlix accounts. Now, this wouldn’t be particularly nasty if you really knew the deal everything was conducted on the up and up. The truth of the matter, however, is that no one who entered their information actually got the IKEA gift card. They didn’t get anything expect an annoyance.

Whoever started this scam has probably also sold all of that personal information to companies other than NetFlix. Selling your information is one of the ways that they make money off the scam.

They’re greedy, dishonest people using a scam that has been around for a long time. Unfortunately, popular sites like Facebook attract members who often don’t know any better. They’re not particularly web savvy and they don’t understand the risks and annoyances of handing out their information. Personally, I wouldn’t hand over my info even if I knew for certain that I was going to get the gift card. It just isn’t worth the endless stream of spam.

One way that we can stop gift card scams is to educate Facebook users about them. Post a link about this story on your wall to let everyone from your 10-year-old nephew to your 80-year-old grandma know more about how these hoaxes work. If we can get everyone to ignore them, they’re much more likely to disappear in time.

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~ by facebookhoaxes on April 12, 2010.

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