Black Friday and Cyber Monday is a time when scammers spawn out of the shadows to pounce on shoppers.
They often send you a text, from a well-known company, offering a free product, a discount or a gift card to anyone who completes their survey, according to a USA Today report.
- These “offers” will often have a time limit to push consumers to act fast.
- The link attached to these surveys takes you to a third-party website where they ask you for personal information, such as name, address, email and more.
- Downloading malware by clicking the link is also a possibility.
During COVID-19, more customers leaned towards online shopping and this created a massive spike in online scams, according to a 2020 report by the Better Business Bureau (BBB).
- The report also found that these scams affected adults ages 18 to 24 the same that they impacted adults over 65.
- Per USA Today, Amazon was ranked No. 2 for the most impersonated brand, totaling 771 reported scams in 2020.
- A Colorado woman claimed she was scammed out of $81,000 by a man impersonating an Amazon employee, reported by Newsweek. In this case, the man told her there was some suspicious activity regarding her account, which led her to give out her bank details.
- The Social Security Administration topped Amazon with 1,467 reported scams in 2020, followed by Publishers Clearing House, Apple, Microsoft, PayPal, Medicare and Walmart.
Tips to avoid fake survey scams
To avoid getting scammed, the BBB has released tips that can help you identify the situation you’re in.
- Unsolicited text messages — If they aren’t from a trustworthy source, don’t interact with them, especially if the link looks strange or the message has any typos. Businesses often ask you permission before sending a text.
2. Rewards too good to be true — Most companies don’t offer a valuable product or a gift card in exchange for completing a survey. If it’s too good to be true, then it’s probably a scam.
3. Limited time — Scammers want to create a sense of urgency in you. A real company may be inclined to give you time to finish your survey because it ultimately benefits them.
4. Concealed identity — Most scammers are vague about the purpose of the scam and who is running them. If you can’t figure out where the survey is coming from, don’t fill it out.
5. Google is your best friend — More often than not, you can search the web for a possible scam you encountered. You can also try to scavage the business's website to find an original survey link.
If your banking or personal information was leaked, contact IdentityTheft.gov to report the incident.