BBB Scam Alert: Survey scam gets a holiday twist

Published 10:55 am Monday, December 18, 2023

From the Better Business Bureau:

Scoring a great deal this holiday season is exciting.

Unfortunately, con artists are using that same feeling of excitement to lure shoppers into scams. This con uses text messages and fake customer surveys to steal valuable information from unsuspecting victims.

How the scam works

Scammers send you a text message that appears to be from a well-known chain store. As part of a holiday deal, the “store” is offering a free product, discount, or gift card to anyone who completes a short questionnaire or survey. Of course, they explain, this is a limited-time offer so you’ll need to act fast if you want to receive your gift.

If you click the link, you won’t go to the store’s official website. Instead, it will take you to a third-party website where you’ll be asked to fill out a form that asks you for personal information, such as your full name, address, email and more. By clicking on the link, you may even download malware onto your device, giving scammers access to even more personal information. Watch out for similar survey scams, even after the holidays.

How to avoid fake survey scams

● Know the signs of a phony text message. Unsolicited text messages are usually not from trustworthy sources. Reputable businesses will get your permission to send you a text before sending anything to your inbox. Fake texts often contain suspicious-looking links and contain typos and other errors, too.

● Watch out for rewards that sound too good to be true. Remember that legitimate businesses run surveys to understand their customers. They may offer a modest discount to encourage participation, but the reward is not the focus. If someone offers you a valuable product or gift card in exchange for completing a two-minute survey, it’s probably a scam.

● Limited-time offers could be a red flag. Scammers often use a sense of urgency to get their victims to hand over valuable information without thinking. Be careful if a text message says something like, “If you complete this survey in the next 10 minutes, you’ll win a prize!” Don’t let yourself be pushed into action without really examining the message first.

● Remember that scammers conceal their identity. Many scam surveys are very vague about their purpose and who is running them. If you can’t figure out who or where the survey is coming from, don’t take it.

● Do some research. If you aren’t sure about a survey, do an internet search to find out more information. Look for links to the survey on a business’s official website. You can also do a search using the survey name and the word “scam” to see if there are any reports about it being fake. You can also check BBB Scam Tracker to see if there are any reports of the survey, or look up the survey company on BBB.org to see their rating and if they are BBB Accredited.