How the scam works:
Instagram is the latest in social networking trends. People can share pictures with captions of whatever it is they are doing at the moment. But with their overnight explosion comes the scammers trying to take advantage of Instagram users.
Basically a phishing scam, fake accounts are being created that resemble those of major brand stores and restaurants. Some examples are Jet Blue, Ray-Ban, Best Buy, Chipotle, Delta, American Airlines, WestJet, Lulu Lemon, Southwest Airlines, Apple, British Aiways, Nike, JB Hi-Fi, etc.
These fake accounts offer coupons, flights, or deals in exchange for likes, shares, follows and comments containing your email address so that you can claim your freebies and "giveaways". Of course, you receive nothing and you have now given away your personal identification to the scammers.
The difference between this scam and typical run of the mill phishing scams is the level of sophistication of the communications. The scammers make sure the URL is close to the brand name URL, fooling many people into believing it is a legitimate offer. They also use real offers ran previously by the company to further enforce the belief that they are the real thing.
How to avoid:
The only real line of defense is the same for this scam than every other “something for nothing” phishing scam. Make sure to contact the company and verify the offer’s legitimacy. Most larger corporations have entire departments dedicated to handling the influx of requests for these special offers; don’t ever feel like you are bothering an employee by making a verification. It is well worth your time to protect your personal identification.
If you really are into redeeming free stuff online, use only legitimate companies. One of the most trustworthy service out there is Swagbucks.com, which is the largest online rewards portal dedicated to helping customers earn gift cards, electronics, and exclusive merchandise. It's worth checking it out, as registration is free. Plus, they have a bunch of free stuff (for real) - you can visit their website HERE.
You can find over 700 other scams like this by downloading our Scam Detector app on your cell phone.
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