Survey says…it’s a scam

Survey opportunities exist everywhere. Whether it’s on a receipt from a grocery store, through your telephone, in an email or on a website, solicitations for feedback are easy to find. When some people receive a survey solicitation, they may be more willing to provide their personal information to a stranger asking for feedback since there’s no risk of a hard sales pitch. Unfortunately, scammers know this and sometimes use the lure of a survey to gain access to your personal information or to hard sell a sales pitch.

Scammers typically employ two vehicles to attack their targets with a survey assault – emails and telephone calls. A scammer will use email distribution to reach a large number of potential victims. It’s easy to do and hard to track the scammer. While the response rate is usually very low, it only takes a few responders to give the scammer what he or she seeks. A telephone survey solicitation takes more time and skill to employ by a scammer, but response rates are usually far greater than email solicitations.

An email survey pitch will usually include some kind of lure such as a monetary amount, vacation, or other tempting prize and will include a clickable link or a downloadable file. The link will either direct a person to a site that will infect his or her computer or record information voluntarily offered by the victim. Downloading a file attached to an email survey solicitation will usually install a program on the target’s computer that could either record personal data or harm the computer.

The best way to avoid harm from an email survey is not to fall for them. Never respond to an email survey asking for your opinion or it may cost you far more than your time.

A telephone survey request is harder to avoid, but you can prevent harm from them if you remember that you’re in control of the call. If the person on the phone asks for personal information such as your birthdate, social security number, or bank account information, hang up. You have the power to end the call at any time, and you can decide when to terminate it.

A surveyor may also get you to relax at the beginning of a call by telling you that he or she isn’t calling to sell you anything. At some point in time during the call, the person will hard sell something to you and ramp up the pressure to prevent you from saying no. You never have to say no to these people. All you have to do is end the call. If the person calls back, don’t say a word. Hang up again.

You are in control of your phone, and you don’t have to take someone’s aggressive tactics to force you to take action. Hang up whenever you feel uncomfortable with the situation.

Never take unsolicited surveys from people you don’t know. Always avoid them to keep your money and your personal information safe.