Many companies conduct legitimate surveys to learn about the public’s opinion of their products and services. Unfortunately, con artists could care less about your opinion and exploit online surveys to collect personal information. Learn more about how to detect online survey scams.
What Is an Online Survey Scam?
A survey scam is often sent by phone or through other forms of online communication to obtain personal information of would-be victims. Survey takers are led to believe that if they complete the survey, they will receive some kind of reward such as a cash prize, a popular product, or an exotic trip. In some cases, con artists call consumers to do a so-called research survey which takes advantage of the loophole for the federal “Do Not Call” law for legitimate surveys.
Detecting Online Survey Scams
Online survey companies often depend on certain headlines such as “Win a Visa Gift Card” to convince users to click. While these companies have a legit giveaway, con artists will use similar tactics, but with malicious intentions.
Types of Scamming Tricks Con Artists Use
These are the common scamming tricks to be on the look-out for:
Use of Phishing Surveys
Con artists will target consumers with phishing surveys to obtain confidential information. You will find that these surveys may appear as display ads on social news feeds and websites. After clicking on the link and filling out the survey, you will see that the online form requires your user name and other personal details like your credit card information, social security number, and even passwords. This is a sure red flag that you’re dealing with something more sinister than a legitimate survey, and in fact, you’re dealing with a phishing survey.
Posing as Legitimate Companies
When you open an email or read a text from a known company like Target, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the communication is actually from Target. It can very well be a con artist posing as a legitimate company.
In your day-to-day busy life, it can be challenging to keep track of all the email lists you signed up for. You can easily be tempted to click on a link when you see an email survey appear that’s in line with one of your interests such as politics, entertainment, or retail. It’s best to avoid clicking unless you are absolutely sure that you opted into that particular survey list. The minute you click on the link, you start the ball rolling on malware being installed on your device. Once this happens, a con artist can skim through your passwords, banking details, and more.
How Online Survey Scams Harm Brands and Consumers
This can harm brands and consumers in the following ways:
Online Accounts are Compromised
When you see survey questions like “What’s your favorite food?” or “Where did you go to school?”, the con artist is obtaining answers to routine identity verification questions. Con artists can easily initiate password resets to gain access to your online accounts. They can also defraud you of your hard-earned money and even commit identity theft.
When your contact information is unjustly shared with advertisers, you may notice an increase in unwanted calls, texts, and emails from several sources. Even more so, some of the unwanted communication could be from the con artists themselves, especially if you have been a scam victim in the past.
Con artists may try to steal the identity of those who participate in the phony surveys. An example of this is opening loan or credit card accounts using the information they obtained.
Negative Media Attention
Negative media attention can pile up on brands in a few different ways. Con artists can use the company’s name to gain trust from potential victims and, in turn, the company gets the backlash from the fraud that follows. On the other hand, companies that depend on information obtained by con artists might assume that they received consent to contact you when that was not the case.
Compromised Employee Accounts
Employees who hand over information that matches their security questions could negatively impact security for their employers. By utilizing stolen credentials, a con artist may be able to commit fraud under the employee’s account or gain access to confidential systems.
What You Should Do
You can protect yourself from online survey scams in the following ways:
- Search online to check for a scam alert on the survey you received.
- Install a call-blocking app on your phone to screen out unwanted calls from scammers.
- Look carefully at the sender’s email address to see if it’s from a free service like Yahoo, AOL, or Gmail.
- Be suspicious of surveys that promise expensive items such as a cruise or an iPad if you complete the questionnaire.
Stay Informed About the Latest Online Survey Scams
Detecting online survey scams isn’t always easy, but there are red flags to look out for. Keep checking our blog for the latest anti-fraud news.