BBB warns of survey scam

(Special to The Leader) —

BEAUMONT — Booking a summer vacation? Steer clear of fake offers promising you gift cards in exchange for taking a quick customer survey. This scam keeps cropping up, and it’s back with a seasonal travel twist.
According to reports, the scam begins when you receive an e-mail or see a social media post urging you to claim a free voucher or gift card, such as one version which reads “You have-earned-yourself a $100-GiftCard: Take Our-Survey” in the subject line. This time of year, fake airline offers are particularly popular, but the “gift card” could be from any well-known brand. The e-mail urges you to click a link and complete a short customer survey.
It sounds easy, but don’t do it! These survey scams have a variety of tricks. The link may lead to a real survey, but when you complete it, the $100 gift card happens to be “out of stock.” Not coincidentally, all that remains are “free” samples of spam-like products; for example, diet pills and wrinkle cream. In other versions, the form is actually a phishing scam that requests banking and credit card information. Or the link may download malware to your computer to steal your passwords and other critical information.
With many businesses offering discounts in exchange for customer feedback, it can be hard to tell a real offer from a fake one. Here are some pointers.
• Look up the website on WhoIs. Right click on the link and select “Copy Link Address.” Then, paste this destination URL into the WhoIs.net directory. This directory will tell you when and to whom a domain is registered. If the URL is brand new, or if the ownership is masked by a proxy service, consider it a big warning sign of a scam.
• Watch out for look-alike URLs. Scammers pick URLs that look similar to those of legitimate sites. Be wary of sites that have the brand name as a sub domain of another URL (i.e. brandname.scamwebsite.com), part of a longer URL (i.e. companynamebooking.com) or use an unconventional top-level domain (the TLD is the part of the name after the dot).
• Legitimate businesses do not ask for credit card numbers or banking information on customer surveys. If they do ask for personal information, like an address or email, be sure there’s a link to their privacy policy.
• Watch out for a reward that’s too good to be true. If the survey is real, you may be entered in a drawing to win a gift card or receive a small discount off your next purchase. Few businesses give away $100 gift cards just for answering a few questions.

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