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