Symantec warns of 'free' goodies on social networks

The next time you receive an offer for a ‘free’ iPad online, remember the old adage "If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”

In recent years, Symantec Security Response has observed scammers flocking towards social networking sites as they grow in popularity. Increasingly, brands are recognising the value in leveraging social media to connect with their customers at a personal level. Likewise, scammers are doing the exact same thing but their main motive is to reap financial gains from their victims. Some of the commonly used tactics as follows:

1. Providing links that redirect to affiliate sites

In the days leading up to and after the announcement of the new third-generation iPad, users who tweet about the new tablet are likely to receive targeted Twitter replies from scammers offering the new device for free. Many of these links actually lead to affiliate pages asking for personal information, such as email address and shipping information.

Some scammers have also begun to send users to instructional videos on YouTube which guide the users through a step-by-step process to get their free iPad or iPhone. Scammers then use the video description section to link to the affiliate pages which then duped users into sharing their personal information.

2. Setting up fake promotional user accounts

Unlike the previous examples, where a Twitter user posts about a certain brand and receives a targeted reply with a link, users are now being directed to fake branded Twitter accounts as shown below. If you are a Twitter user and receiving replies from suspicious Twitter accounts promising you something for free, protect yourself and others by reporting the account to Twitter.

Symantec recommends users be cautious when clicking on URLs without expanding them first using previews or plug-ins. Users should also never disclose any confidential personal or financial information unless and until it can be confirmed that any request for such information is legitimate.

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