What Is a Survey Scam and How to Recognize It?
Many businesses ask their customers to take surveys to learn how they could improve their services. While companies get valuable information about their customers’ experiences, those who participate in surveys often get small gifts. Thus, participating in surveys might seem fun and harmless if you have not heard about survey scams. A survey scam is a fake online form that asks for personal information like your email address, passwords, and credit card details in exchange for expensive gifts or tempting rewards. Since participating in scam surveys could result in identity theft and put your privacy at risk, it is vital to know how to spot them. By reading the rest of this blog post, you can learn how survey scams work, how to recognize them, and how to protect yourself against them.
How do survey scams work?
We mentioned earlier that survey scams are online forms that ask for personal information. However, they usually do not ask for sensitive information right away. It means that, in the beginning, participants of the fake scam might be asked for non-personal information. For example, such questionnaires could ask you how often you buy goods from a particular shop, what you usually buy, and things alike. Scammers can even make their surveys look legit by adding logos of well-known shop brands.
Moreover, according to researchers from Naked Security, some survey scams offer inexpensive gifts so that their offer would appear more believable. However, their recently researched survey scams revealed that once hackers lure users in or, in other words, convince them to begin filling their fake form, they start offering more expensive gifts. For example, they could promise you the newest iPhone, Samsung, or Huawei mobile phone for only 1$. Specialists noticed that users might be rushed to answer questions faster. For instance, the fake survey might say that only a few participants will get the promised reward and that a lot of users are trying to finish the form and get it right now. It is vital to mention that scammers may offer not only expensive items but also huge discounts, for example, 90 percent off for the chosen item.
If you continue filling the fake survey, you might get redirected to an online form that asks for personal information. For instance, the questionnaire may ask for your email address, and even your email account’s password, which should instantly raise a red flag. No legitimate business or other organization would ever ask you for your account’s password, login name, and sensitive details alike. Next, the fake survey might ask to choose what kind of mobile device you want and what color it should be. Finally, you should be asked to enter your credit card details, as you are supposed to pay 1$ for the chosen mobile phone.
Since scammers need you to type in your credit card details only so that they could record them, you might get redirected to any website after submitting such information. In other words, if it is a scam, you might not get any confirmation that the transaction was successful.
How to recognize survey scams?
Remember that the goal of all businesses is to make money, not to lose it. So, if you are offered something that you know costs a lot for free or almost free of charge, it is a sign that something is not right. Of course, survey scams might lure you in by promising too good to be true gifts only at the end, but other things can help you identify them. Fake questionnaires might contain grammatical mistakes or wrong dates. Also, they might keep changing the terms of their offer at every step. For example, it could say that you are a lucky user and that it is guaranteed that you will get an iPhone if you fill the form, but the next survey’s step could say that you need to hurry up or even offer an entirely different reward.
How to protect yourself against survey scams?
The best way to protect yourself against survey scams is to recognize fake questionnaires early and get away from them without answering any questions or providing personal information. Anything you type into the answer boxes can be recorded with keylogging tools. Thus, even if you close the survey without clicking the submit button, it is likely that the information you typed in got recorded anyway. Therefore, you should first determine if the survey is legit or not before you start providing any answers.
What to do if you believe you participated in a fake survey? It depends on what kind of information you revealed. If you gave scammers data like passwords, it is essential to replace them as fast as possible. Your new password cannot be anyhow similar to the old one. It is best if it is made from random upper-case and lower-case letters, numbers, and symbols. Also, specialists recommend using passcodes that are made from at least 10-12 characters. If you doubt you can think of a strong password that you would be able to memorize, we advise employing a dedicated password manager like Cyclonis Password Manager. You can learn more about it here.
If you submitted your email or home address in a scam survey, you should stay alert as it is likely that cybercriminals may try to scam you somehow else. It might not even be the same scammers that created the fake survey that you participated in. As you see, instead of misusing the obtained information themselves, hackers can sell it on the dark web where anyone can purchase it.
To conclude, if you come across an online form that asks for personal information in exchange for rewards that sound too good to be true, you should assume it is a scam. No business would give expensive free gifts just for answering some questions. Huge companies would need lots of filled surveys to get valuable insights to grow their business. Thus, it would be too costly. Lastly, if you believe that you filled a fake questionnaire, you must take immediate action because hackers start misusing stolen data right away.