The Facebook world is all aflutter about the most recent attempt by scammers to separate you from your data: a promotion promises two free tickets on Southwest Airlines, but in reality is just another plot to gather your personal information.
A message displayed on users’ walls contains something like the following: “OMG I just got two free flight vouchers on southwest airlines! this is awesome! here’s the link.” The link takes those unfortunate enough to click on it to an app called “SW Gifts” which, when installed, can access users’ account information and post status updates or comments from their accounts. The user is then taken to a site that looks like Southwest’s, but is asked to log in with his Facebook account. He’s then shown the opt-in dialog box asking if the application can access his information and share it with third parties – the kind of thing that we see a thousand times but never actually read. He then sees a banner ad:
He is then asked to complete 13 sponsor offers in order before receiving the promotion. The offers beguile him into giving away his personal information, which is sure to result in a deluge of “promotional emails and special offers from trusted third parties.”
The scammers hacked into users’ Facebook accounts and used them to spread the links. Interestingly, instead of going the usual route of posting the links as status updates, they posted them as comments on friends’ walls to lend an air of credibility. If you’ve been taken in, this website explains what little recourse you have.
The real “2 free flights” promotion from the real Southwest
Adding to the confusion, Southwest Airlines actually does have a 2 roundtrip flight promo going on, from the Southwest Airlines credit card. Here’s the real deal:
Just this month, Chase launched the new Southwest Airlines Premier Credit Card, with a killer signup bonus of 50,000 Southwest miles after your first purchase, worth at least 2 roundtrip domestic flights (probably what sparked the scam in the first place). Unfortunately, the Facebook scam might put a black mark on a card that’s a pretty gosh darn good deal: in addition to the signup bonus, worth ~$833 in “Wanna Get Away” fare, you get 2 Southwest miles per $1 spent on the airline and 1 mile per $1 spent elsewhere. What’s more, you get a 6,000-mile anniversary bonus once a year, worth $100 in “Wanna Get Away” (aka economy) fare. That in itself nixes the $99 annual fee.
Check out our blog post for more information on the Southwest Premier credit card, detailing the offer, Chase’s signup bonus bombardment and the changes that Southwest made to its frequent flyer program.
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