Surveys have long been a playground of hackers and scammers.
That’s true at any time of the year but it’s especially true around the Holidays when such scams seem to attract even more unwitting victims. In fact, some estimates place scammer profits revolving around fake surveys as being nearly $80 million a month. So it’s big business for them.
The particulars vary somewhat from one operation to the next.
Here’s how they work in general:
First the scammer targets a perfectly legitimate survey or giveaway offered by a big well-known company or brand.
They’ll copy the layout and format of this legitimate survey creating their own version of it. By all outward appearances from the perspective of a visitor to the survey site, they’re taking advantage of a legitimate offer.
Naturally there are some telltale signs. Most of these fake sites aren’t checked closely for quality control so you’re likely to catch spelling errors or grammatically incorrect phrases that could serve to give away the game. Of course there’s no hiding the URL but most of the people who land on a survey or giveaway page aren’t paying much attention to that.
Once on the page the victim is in the funnel. The survey proceeds as you’d expect with a request for personal information at the end. Sometimes they ask for a credit card (which the victim is assured won’t be billed – it’s merely being used for ‘verification purposes.’)
And you know how the story ends.
Armed with this freshly gleaned information the scammers make off with it either running up big bills on the victim’s card or selling the data to the highest bidder.
This is a global issue. It impacts people from all walks of life and from almost every country on the planet. Don’t fall for it. Do your due diligence or just say no to anything that looks like it’s too good to be true.