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BBB Tip of the Week: Scammers on image sharing sites

Sun., April 6, 2014

The Better Business Bureau has received reports of hackers and scammers targeting image sharing sites. So that Pinterest link may not be from your friend. Hackers are gaining access to Pinterest accounts and posting, also called pinning, images that lead to malicious websites. The BBB offers the following tips to keep your Pinterest account safe from hackers:

• If you see a spam pin, report it by clicking the flag icon under the image and to the right of the poster who uploaded the pin.

• If you think your account has been hacked, change your password right away.

• Whether checking Pinterest at home, at work or in public, log off when you are no longer active on the site.

• Never log in to look-alike websites that exist to capture your login and password. Only use and the official mobile app.

• Check the link before you pin. Popular pins have been targeted by scammers who replace the link with a malicious destination.

Also, scammers are targeting Instagram by pretending to be well-known companies and brands. They often offer prizes or other freebies in exchange for your information. Here’s a tip to tell the pretenders from the real thing: If the name includes the word “Free” or “Giveaway” along with the brand or company’s name, consider checking with the business’s website or calling the customer service number to verify the offer and their Instagram account.

Shortened URLs may be a sign of a scam. However, many businesses use them too, so check a shortened link with a link expander before you click on it.

If the account has no photos or only stock or generic photos, it is probably a front for a scam.

A giveaway that is free for all or many is a red flag. Businesses will have giveaways with a chance for someone to win a prize. Scammers often claim that hundreds or thousands will get the freebie.

Anyone asking for your Instagram password is not a legitimate company.

Even when following these tips to keep your social media accounts safe, hackers may still gain access to accounts through holes in security or third-party applications. If you’ve fallen victim to a social media scam, you can report it to the BBB at or by calling (509) 455-4200.

By Erin T. Dodge,

BBB editor


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