Scammers follow the news.
It is in the news as more Americans receive COVID vaccinations, the relaxation of restrictions seems to be getting closer. Businesses and media outlets are anxious to discover the current feelings and attitudes of our citizens.
Surveys and polls are common methods of reading the pulse of the public. With the news of increased vaccinations, along with the possible lifting of many travel restrictions, it would seem logical those industries would be anxious to gather accurate information specific to their businesses. Scammers know this too.
However, scammers are also aware of “Survey Fatigue,” one of the latest issues marketers and researchers face. Polls and surveys have acquired a generally negative perception due to their rampant excessiveness in everyday life. Surveys are often viewed as requiring too much effort to complete, the purpose of the survey doesn’t seem legitimate, or they do not have a “Why should I respond?” reason to participate.
Scammers have attacked this thirst for data regarding improving COVID news with relish. They have devised two surveys, supposedly from pharmaceutical and travel industries, that have checked the boxes of the reasons listed above: They are easy to take, they have seemingly legitimate reasons to take the survey and they have answered the “Why should I respond?” question.
Pharmaceutical vaccine survey scam
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently issued an alert about people across the country receiving emails and texts asking them to complete a short, limited-time survey about the Pfizer, Moderna or AstraZeneca vaccines. (There will probably soon be one about Johnson & Johnson as well.) Many recipients are offered a $1200 Apple iPhone as a reward for completing the survey. After completing the survey, the website required the people taking it must pay a fee of $19.73 for shipping and handling. In other versions of the survey scam, banking and credit card information are either requested or demanded. No legitimate survey will require paying fees to receive a gift or prize.
Travel industry survey scam
Another scam email, disguised as a simple, 30-second, four-question Southwest Airlines Flight Survey, is also making the rounds. It is represented to be a survey done by the third-party research service, “PutYourThoughts.com,” for Southwest. Upon completion, participants are promised “exciting offers of up to $100 in value.” However, if you click the link, you will land on a domain that will infect your device with a vicious malware.
If you receive an email or text like the two listed above, STOP! Don’t click anything. It is a scam!
BBB says it is best not to click on anything in an unsolicited email or text. Here are a few tips on how to spot malicious messages:
• If you’ve never signed up for emails or texts from a company, you shouldn’t be receiving them, even though they are often personalized to be specifically to you.
• Always be wary of emails urging you to act immediately or you’ll face some kind of consequence. Scammers don’t want you to have the time to think about what they want.
• Typos, strange phrasing and bad grammar are typical giveaways of a scam. A brand’s logo and name are easily copied but communications from legitimate corporations rarely have typos or grammatical mistakes.
• Make sure the links in an email or text direct you to the business’ official website. Hovering over the link will reveal, at the bottom of the browser, the actual destination, not a variant of the domain name.
• If you want to know if the offer is real, call the customer service number on your bill and ask if the survey really came from your cellphone carrier.
Cheryl Parson is president of the Better Business bureau serving West Central Ohio. The BBB may be found on the Internet at www.lima.bbb.org.