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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