Internet Safety | Would Your Friend Sell You for a FREE $5 Gift Card?

by Beth Montgomery on May 16, 2012 · 8 comments

in Tips & Basics

Photo courtesy of elhombredenegro.

As deal seekers, we’re often giving access to Facebook apps to get a FREE sample, grabbing up free-for-a-day mobile apps before the price increases, and signing up for many sites to get exclusive savings.

What is the cost of these great deals?

While I’m all for snagging freebies and deals, it’s the things that we hand over to get these deals that is starting to concern me. I recently found out I wasn’t so safe, when my credit card information was stolen. While that wasn’t fun, my credit card company did protect me and I wasn’t responsible for any of the charges made.

Fruit Ninja App Permissions: Amazon (May 2012)

That same day I was upgrading apps on my mobile phone, when I noticed that a popular FREE app my daughter and I often play was suddenly requesting control of my camera and access to my contacts.

And then someone asked me to sell my friends and readers.

Okay, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but a new website pitched me their site as a potential story, explaining that they offer the ability to give your Facebook friends and family FREE gift cards from popular retailers.

I get many pitches. Some are serious. Some are not. I always reply with a “thanks, here’s what we can do” email to weed out those who are serious. It saves me a bit of time researching sites to make sure they are legit.

This website got back with me quickly, ready to discuss advertising and let me tour their site.

Before I get excited, at this point, I always stop and do my research. At first glance, a search brought up tons of glowing reviews in newspapers and blogs, but FREE gift cards? What’s the catch?

So I researched a bit deeper and what I found was a bit disturbing.

Would you say no to a FREE gift card?

If you download the Wrapp app to your smartphone, then sign in with your Facebook account, you can send your friends and family FREE gift cards from popular retailers including:

  • The Wall Street Journal
  • Gap
  • Sephora
  • H&M
  • Rovio Entertainment
  • Björn Borg

To accept your kind gift, your friends and family must also download the app to their smartphone and login with their Facebook account.

Freebies Have a Price

Coming from a deal site that promotes ways to save, that sounds shocking, but it’s true. Manufacturers offer freebies to build their mailing lists, get free (positive) advertising as people share, and build loyal customers. This isn’t necessarily bad. It’s simply a way for both parties to give and take, and both benefit.

So what was the cost of a FREE gift card? More (WAY MORE) than I was willing to pay (or ask you to pay).

You Advertise for Them

The idea is that instead of paying for advertising, they are giving that advertising money directly to you to hand over to a friend, making that friend more likely to take the next step and shop at the retailer.

With Wrapp, you are not the customer. You are the product and they are selling you to retailers.

What They Get for Their Purchase – Your Personal Data

Wrapp App Permissions: Google Play (May 2012)

The minute you start using Wrapp, whether your sending a gift card to a friend or accepting one, you’re agreeing to their terms of service.

I’ll give this to Wrapp, they are very honest (but vague) if you read carefully.

Wrapp Terms of Service (May 2012)

Typically, when you use a service, cancelling your account ends your agreement with them. Not with Wrapp. Your permission is irrevocable.  They go on to say you can use the service until you remove the software and cancel your account, but it doesn’t say that ends your agreement to their terms. In fact, later on the say that cancelling your account does not terminate many parts of your agreement.

Putting it simply – there is no going back!

Wrapp Terms of Service (May 2012)

It gets better! You grant Wrapp permission to access information on or through your Social Network Account (that’s Facebook) without limitation including:

  • Profile Information
  • Friends
  • Followers
  • Photos

That want your photos? All of your photos. Photos of you, your kids, your friends, and your family. And, in case you missed it – WITHOUT LIMITATION!

What are they going to do with them? They’re vague about that too!

Wrapp Terms of Service (May 2012)

Everything Wrapp collects may be used “in a variety of ways by Wrapp”. They give examples of ways they may use it, but “a variety of ways” leaves the door open to anything.

Wrapp Terms of Service (May 2012)

They already ask for so much already and at any time, they can take more without notifying you.

Wrapp Privacy Policy (May 2012)

Wrap gets control of your personal information and can give it to anyone they want, even companies in other countries without laws to protect you and your privacy.

Wrap Terms of Service (May 2012)

To accept a sponsored gift from you, your friends have to hand over all of their information too!

Nice gift, huh?

Proceed with Caution

Keep in mind, Wrapp is not saying they will give you X in exchange for specific data and telling you exactly what they plan to do with it. Instead, they are asking for your irreversible permission to take any data they want at any time and do whatever they want with it by using words like irrevocable acceptance, without limitation, and in a variety of ways.

I don’t care what you decide to do with your personal data, but I would not be happy if my friends gave away mine!

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Just so you know…  After researching, I did reply to my contact and mention my concerns. In the past when I’ve done this, companies have offered alternatives or talked me through those concerns. With Wrapp, I never got a reply, which based on my experience, is not a good sign.

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{ 8 comments }

1 Robin H May 16, 2012 at 9:15 AM

Excellent article. I saw this circulating last week & passed it by because it sounded too good to be true. I love that you do your research & keep your readers informed.

2 Beth May 16, 2012 at 10:21 AM

I’m glad you were smart enough to pass. I know as consumers we give up a lot of information when we use credit cards, loyalty cards, coupons, etc…, but we should not be able to give up our friend’s personal data.

Knowing 92% of people don’t read terms of service or permissions before accepting them, it concerns me that I have to either block all Facebook apps or trust my Facebook friends to protect my personal data. I know my own Grandma would sign up not understanding fully what she was agreeing to, if a friend sent her a free gift card. She’s trusting and on Facebook. They are asking too much by saying they can give your friend’s personal data to 3rd parties in countries without laws to protect your privacy with your (not your friend’s) permission.

3 Greg Spector May 16, 2012 at 7:34 PM

Hi Beth! Greg from Wrapp, here. Please call me: 415-717-4666

4 Beth May 16, 2012 at 9:21 PM

Greg, I’ll email you to connect. But, first, is this your business phone number? Since you publicly posted it in a comment on my blog, I want to double check. Enough people add my help email address on the site to their newletters and mailings. I don’t want your cell phone number to end up on a telemarketing list!

5 wendy andary September 28, 2012 at 4:37 PM

Hi Beth,

I am so glad I found your post on this!
I just received an offer from this company and had the same reaction you did. I used to be the type of consumer these companies love to target: Jump on board as soon as the gift card carrot is dangled then maybe one day, glance at the site’s privacy policy – probably when I’m collecting another freebie I likely could live without but can’t seem to pass up! I was almost guilty of this when the Gap gc came my way but as I began to do the Wrapp App download, I decided to glance at the terms and I, too was struck by the outrageous items you mentioned in your post.

As I started reading it, all I could think was: What the hell?!? You have got to be kidding me.
“Wrapp MAY hand over my personal info to websites and companies in other countries that may not follow the same privacy rules as the US? They can use all my data and my friends, and our pictures and…basically do what they please with all of it-for ever and ever and ever!…And for what? So I can splurge on some free socks from the GAP and a blush brush from Sephora?”

I was shocked to see something so UN-consumer friendly and also searched for the opt-out part of the scenario. Couldn’t find one. Thought it was required in Cal , where I live, to be honest. The scary thing was that when I went back to my laptop and tried to get off the landing page that the inital offer had taken me to (their FB welcome/ signup page I think), it already showed my FB profile pic at the top and said “Wendy uses Wrapp and loves it” or something along those lines. I never even signed up or downloaded a thing. I immediately emailed their website and told them I wanted my name and any data they may have collected on me (without my permission) removed and deleted at once. I told them I did NOT approve of their terms and would not allow my data to be compromised.
Surprisingly, I received an email almost immed. from someone there who actually read my email (not just a generic snippet thanking me for visiting and telling me they hoped my experience would improve next time, yada yada…) Anyway, she told me that she could not find my name or email in their data at all and stated that I didn’t need to worry as I had not signed in. Asked again about my FB photo blurb at the top but she had no explanation. This is beyond scary. Especially when I stopped to think who on my FB list might have fallen for this… and now, Wrapp has my data despite the fact that I told them no, myself.

I’m very curious as to what Greg (the Wrapp rep who gave his number) had to say about all this. The most I got out of the girl who emailed me was an attempt at a warm and fuzzy: “No need to worry about us “ever selling your information so please visit us again soon and sign up.” I had to laugh…why WOULD they bother to sell my info? They already state in their terms that they plan give to away to half the universe right off the bat! I am still stunned that they can get away w/ this.

Please feel free to message me privately about this. Would love to follow up re: what recourse I have if they obtain my data via a FB contact I have. Thanks.

Love your blog btw. Just discovered it.
Cheers,
Wendy

6 Beth September 30, 2012 at 11:46 AM

Wendy, that is so weird. I’ve made it to the page and even (as you to see to get screen shots) acted like I was about to sign up, but it never posted anything on my page. Greg, I believe it was, called me and said they were redoing their terms of service after I wrote this, because it didn’t represent their companies goals accurately. He was going to send me a copy, however, after the revision, the only change I could find was that instead of “photos” it said “profile picture”. Other than that, it was all the same. I see so many people promoting it and signing up. You might want to read Control What Friends Share About You with Apps too, because it helps you set your Facebook settings so your friends can’t share stuff with Wrapp about you.

7 wendy andary October 1, 2012 at 2:54 PM

Beth,

Thanks for your reply. This “personal data free for all” made me think it was time for a quick check into my app list on FB, to make sure I wasn’t being taken for a ride. And guess what…I was!

Aside from a few others I wasn’t aware of, lo and behold, WRAPP was listed as an App I was registered for and apparently they’ve been quite busy, digging into my personal data. Over the last three days they dug into my work history, schooling, FB friends info and general info. This is all despite their numerous emails trying to convince me otherwise, along with a personal statement basically telling me that (should I want to sign up down the road) I don’t need to worry about security. The CSR continued to write me that Wrapp will “never share or sell my information.” Really? Really???!!!

I am convinced that they are acting without regard to my privacy and I will not just let it go, given what their own T & C says they will do w/ my data. I have gone ahead and changed my FB settings to restrict this in the future but would also be interested in re-posting your original article about this on my FB page, so as to warn others. Is this permissable or no? Thanks Beth.
Wendy

8 Beth October 3, 2012 at 1:29 PM

Wendy, you can repost a link to the article, if you’d like. Or even a quote from it with a link back, but not the entire article. I hope that makes sense. However, that’s crazy. When I typically look back at apps in my Facebook, most have never even accessed my information or only do it on the day I access it. Make sure to contact Wrapp, because you deactivating the app from Facebook does not remove your information from their databases. I wrote a bit about that here: http://ingoodcents.com/2012/05/internet-safety-what-are-you-handing-over-online.html.

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