Pinterest Alert: The New Pin Scam To Avoid

shot of Pinterest page, courtesy LIB246, Creative Commons

by Kristin Nador/@KristinNador

Have you added Pinterest to your social media repertoire yet? Addicted?

Pinterest is a fun way to curate the subjects that you enjoy, meet others who love your interests as much as you do, as well as reach out to your target audience as a writer, artist or other creative.

For the uninitiated, Pinterest is a social media network that gives you the ability to ‘pin’ images you find around the internet onto virtual ‘boards’, basically a cool digital bulletin board. You can ‘repin’ other users pins as well. Your boards can have any themes, but Pinterest is currently dominated by three groups: fashionistas, foodies, and DIY’ers.

What is Pinterest?

There is a dark wind blowing through the otherwise idyllic Pinterest landscape. As Pinterest has grown in popularity, its popularity with scam artists and malware infections is growing as well. Pins of popular products like Starbucks and Coach that seem legitimate lead to coupon or ‘survey’ sites that collect personal information, which is a classic phishing scheme. Others secretly download malware to your computer. These are ‘pinned’ by unsuspecting Pinterest users from the fake Pinterest accounts and the evil spreads.

I found this out for myself just a few weeks ago. I had a rash of Pinterest peeps start following my account, four and five a day. When I examined the accounts closer, several things were just ‘not right’. The user didn’t have any bio info. Their photo, if they had one, looked like it was a street scene from a newspaper or magazine photo. Their boards were all the same as the other suspect users. Same pins, same board titles. There were a lot of electronic items featured in the pins, some with a promise of great deals if you click on the pin. One pin under the ‘Geek’ board had a photo of a beautiful girl and said “Neat – uploaded with Pinterest Android app. Get it here.” A link followed. Seems perfectly harmless. Only problem? There is no Pinterest app for the Android phone yet.

Mila Kunis: favorite bait of Pinterest scammers

Hazel Delgado from Ft. Smith, AR, Marcia Hicks, Connie Perry, Lynn Reed, Maile Genco, Beverly Campbell, Veronica Graham and Marjorie Thomas: all Pinterest accounts that sound like regular folks, until you take the time to look closer: They all have the same EXACT named boards: these and other fake accounts usually include the boards Geek, Outdoors, Fitness, Home Decor, My Life, Humor, Food, etc. And they all seem to like Mila Kunis. All have Twitter accounts with zero activity or followers. They were scam accounts, following MY ACCOUNT! Without taking the time to check it out, I could have gotten some bad stuff on my computer.

What can you do to protect the Pinterest community, and your own computer, from bad eggs floating around on Pinterest? Here are a few tips:

Take the time to check out a profile who’s following you. Some of the signs it may be a fake account include:

  • The board titled ‘Geek’ in particular has lots of outgoing links on photos that have been pinned.
  • The board and its pins don’t match. Example: A kids’ book pin on a board entitled Cool Electronics. I found this exact thing and it’s label was “uploaded with Pinterest Android app. Click here.” with a link. (I’d love to post all these to show you, but for obvious reasons I won’t)
  • The account has numerous boards with only 1 pin on each board.
  • It has a link in the comment part of the pin (don’t click)
  • A link to an Android Pinterest app? Big red flag.

One other ‘tell’ I discovered after researching these bogus accounts is that if you click on their Twitter social media button under their name, there is zero activity on the account: no photo, no tweets, no followers. The bad guys probably just used the dummy Twitter account to start the Pinterest account.

Pinterest has an easy reporting system. They are working hard to eradicate these scammers and welcome the Pinterest community’s help. When you see a suspect pin, just click on ‘report pin’ and their system will do the rest.

When in doubt, don’t pin, no matter how cute you think those Louboutins look or how bad you want that exact Coach purse. Scammers are like a virus, so don’t spread them!

I know this adds precious time you don’t have to using Pinterest. Don’t be discouraged and run away screaming! Just like Facebook or Twitter, you need to be alert about scammers, phishing and virus/malware possibilities in any social media interaction you have. The main way these scams and viruses happen is through clicking on a link. If you find one, don’t freak out thinking your computer is about to explode or your bank account is being emptied. Just say no to clicking links and you will stay safe. Then report the pin. If all pinners do their part when spotting fakes, we can make Pinterest the fun visual playground it was meant to be.

Want more information about Pinterest scams? 

Looking for Pinterest friends? Follow me here or click on the Follow Me on Pinterest button in my sidebar. I’m dedicated to a spam-free account. 🙂 Need an invite? Let me know, I have a few.

Related posts:

Question: Are you a Pinterest Pinner? Will you take the time to spot scammers?

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Sharpen Your Blogging Habits: The Golden Rule For Bloggers

"Don't judge each day by the harvest you receive but by the seeds that you plant." - Robert Louis Stevenson

Thanks so much for all the feedback for our blogging habits series featured this month. I hope we are all giving little tweaks to our blogging vision to make what we do with our blogs the best ever for 2012. If this is your first time popping in, here’s the series line-up so you can get on the same page:

Part 1 – Sharpen Your Blogging Habits: 4 Ways To Define Your Audience

Part 2 – Sharpen Your Blogging Habits: 7 Keys To Blogging On A Consistent Basis

Part 3 – Sharpen Your Blogging Habits: 14 Actions To Take To Amplify Your Blog’s Voice

There’s a local health foods store I frequent to buy my vitamins. It’s a little mom-pop operation. Actually a mom-daughter-niece operation where ‘everybody knows your name’. One day I noticed a blurb in their newspaper ad about the store’s blog. I checked it out. It was a ‘just-beginning-to-bud-and-dying-from-the-frost-of-being-unread’ blog. Only one post made a couple months earlier with no comments on it. The post was well-written and happened to mention a new natural face soap the store had begun carrying. It’s a wonderful goat’s milk soap made locally that up until that time had only been sold during the farmer’s market season.

Excited to be able to get my beloved soap in the winter, I ran by the health foods store to snatch up all the bars I could. When I paid for my purchase, I shared my excitement with the owner and thanked her for posting about it in her blog. Her mouth kind of fell open, then she smiled and said, “I didn’t know anyone was reading it. I guess I’m going to have to put some more things on there.” She didn’t think anyone was reading or getting value out of her blog until someone told her.

Blog Habit #4: Encourage Other Bloggers

Whether you call it sowing seeds, karma, doing unto others as you would have them do unto you, or good vibrations, when you take the time to encourage others it will pay big dividends in your personal attitude as well as your blogging mojo.

Sometimes we’re so caught up in building our own blog, we forget it really does ‘take a village’ to create a strong blog presence. Readers are the lifeblood of a blog, and a large portion of readers are fellow bloggers. If you happen to have a niche blog, bloggers in that niche are even more important to help you gain a readership by spreading the news about your blog in that niche community.

Interaction in social media usually comes in the form of participating in the community conversation in some way. Sounds simple enough, right? So why aren’t readers naturally interacting on blogs? Why do we have to ‘work’ for their involvement?

A 2006 study by Jakob Nielsen cites that 90% of online community users are lurkers who never contribute or interact, 9% contribute a little and only 1% are vocally active. This is a fact of life that many ministries and non-profit groups have always dealt with. The 20/80 rule, as in, 20% of the same volunteers do 80% of the volunteer work. While we’re not going to make a major societal impact, we can put a tiny dent in whether people stand on the sidelines of our blog or become more interactive by modeling interactive encouragement to others.

How can you be an encouragement to other bloggers without draining your already precious social media time? Here are a few simple ways:

  • Make a comment on someone else’s blog.

Did you enjoy a post you read? Learn something? Completely disagree? Stumbled on the post during a search? Take the time to make a comment to let the blogger know. You don’t have to write a dissertation, but you can also do better than ‘Great post!’ One sentence can make the difference to a writer who’s feeling like their words are floating into the internet ether without notice.

  • Click a social media sharing button.

Are you skimming blogs while on your coffee break or between toddler duties at home? Don’t have time to think about and write out a comment? It only takes a second to click a ‘like’ button on WordPress blogs and about the same amount of time to click a Google 1+, Facebook, Twitter, or social bookmarking button like StumbleUpon or Reddit and you’ve done double duty by letting the blogger know their post has not only been read but shared with others.

  • Tweet or retweet blog links on Twitter.

Become known for showcasing valuable information by taking the time to tweet and retweet post links on Twitter. Folks will appreciate it and be more likely to check out your blog posts when you tweet your own links.

  • Make a Pinterest board for your favorite blog posts.

Once you are on Pinterest, it’s easy to add a photo from one of your favorite blog posts with a simple click of the  ‘Pin it!’ button. The ‘pin’ will link back to the blog to help get more traffic to your fellow bloggers’ sites.

  • Have a blog round-up or showcase.

Some people enjoy writing a post highlighting a weekly round-up of quality blog post links. This has the double benefit of helping others while you get readers who show up just for your great lists!  It doesn’t have to be a long list. Here are some examples:

Read The 12 Best Blogs You May (Almost) Have Never Heard Of

Read Adventures in YA and Children’s Publishing’s ‘This Week For Writers

  • Ask someone to write a guest post for your blog.

Be discriminating about this, but if you see a quality blogger who hasn’t built a large readership yet and may need encouragement, nothing helps like a request for their writing skills! You have the mutual benefit of being exposed to the other blogger’s readership.

  • Stay positive in your online interaction.

If something someone says on their blog rubs you the wrong way, think twice before you rattle off that rant that accuses them of being a no-talent hack. Some people support getting as controversial as you can to stir up buzz so people will come check out your blog.

That’s also what they do with reality shows, Jerry Springer and 24/7 news channels. Think about it.

When you are posting something negative, ask yourself these questions: Is this negativity really necessary? Can I make my point without tearing another person down? Of course, life is not a box of fuzzy kittens (if only!) and stuff happens and we like to talk about it. It’s fine to disagree, but be cautious about being disagreeable and attacking others’ personally. It’s bad karma and may come back to haunt you.

  • Answer the question posed in a blog post.

If the specific post asks a question, try to answer it. If you go on and on about your mother’s cat or some other rabbit trail, the blog writer may be frustrated thinking their post/question was poorly written or unclear. That can be discouraging. Answer the question, even if it’s “I don’t know” then tell everyone about your mother’s cat.

If you read a lot of blogs  it’s usually not possible to devote time to commenting on every one. However, you can give yourself a goal. For example: ‘I’ll comment on 3 blogs per day’, or’ I’ll ‘like’ 5 blogs today’, or ‘I’ll write one thoughtful comment per week’. Again, don’t overload yourself with added pressures. But you need to look at encouraging others as an investment. Interacting and sharing in the blogging community not only gives out good vibes, it teaches you to step out of yourself. When you do that, the seeds you plant will come back as a good harvest.

Question: What makes you want to take the time to comment on a blog post?