The Business Bureau urges caution before clicking on surveys to buy | Jobs Reply

We’re in the middle of the last few days for holiday shopping, and you may be seeing some of the best deals yet. It can be even more exciting if you see a claim that as part of a holiday deal, a “company” is offering a free product, discount, or gift card to anyone who fills out a short questionnaire or survey. Unfortunately, some of these offers are fake and you will need to be careful.

Real businesses use surveys to understand their customers or get feedback on their products and services. However, fake surveys have become an increasingly common way for fraudsters to pursue personal information. These programs usually come in text messages and emails that contain links that may even lead to the theft of important account information from unsuspecting victims.

Why do scammers use surveys? Most people like to give their opinion — especially if there’s a discount or other reward on offer. While someone may be wary during a sales pitch, surveys can appear harmless, meaning it’s easy to accidentally share information that a scammer could use.

How does this work: Often, these messages will claim to be from a reputable store to try to add authenticity. And they often push for immediate action.

If you click on the given link, you will not go to the official website of the store. Instead, it will take you to a third-party website where you will be asked to fill out a form that asks for personal information, such as your full name, address, email, and more.

Even if you don’t provide your information, just by clicking on a link you may download malware – including spyware – to your device. Spyware is software that scammers use to monitor the information you type. This means they can capture your login details and passwords to gain access to your online accounts, including bank accounts.

How to identify and avoid fake surveys:

› Beware of prizes that sound too good to be true. Remember that legitimate businesses conduct surveys to understand their customers. They may offer a small discount to encourage participation, but the reward is not the focus. If someone offers you a valuable product or gift card to complete a two-minute survey, it’s probably a scam.

› Limited time offers may be a red flag. Fraudsters often use a sense of urgency to get their victims to provide important information without thinking. Be aware if the text message says something like, “If you complete this survey in the next 10 minutes, you will win a prize!” Don’t let yourself be pushed into action without checking the message first.

Remember that scammers hide their identity. Many scam surveys are vague about their purpose and who is conducting them. If you can’t find out who or where the survey is from, don’t take it.

Look for typos, incorrect grammar, and incorrect company logos. Fraudsters can easily copy the brand name, but unfamiliar words and poor grammar often give away that the message is a scam. Sometimes, scammers may not use the correct company logo.

Hover over URLs to reveal their actual location. Usually, text with a link will say one thing, but the link will point somewhere else. Make sure the links actually lead to the business’s official website, not a variation of the domain name. But don’t click on it to find out. Just hover over it to see what site it shows associated with the link.

› Do research. If you are unsure about a test, do an internet search for more information. Check out the survey links on the company’s official website. You can also do a search using the name of the survey and the word “scam” to see if there are any reports about it being fake. Feel free to call your BBB at 423-266-6144 for assistance as well.

While the holidays can be a peak time for these messages, you should always be on the lookout for similar survey scams throughout the year. For more information, check out BBB’s signs of a fake survey, which includes real examples of fake surveys.

If you see a survey scam, please report it at Your report can help others avoid becoming victims.

Michele Mason is president of the Chattanooga Business Bureau.

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