Have you ever filled out an online survey? Probably so. In fact, according to SurveyMonkey, one of the world’s leading online survey platforms, they collect more than 2 million survey responses every day from consumers just like you.
And when you add to this equation dozens of similar companies who are all doing the same thing, you get a whole lot of online surveys completed every day, all across the globe.
But let’s be honest, whenever you’ve completed surveys in the past, you weren’t exactly thrilled about the prospect. After all, sitting in front of your computer and answering dry, boring questions about your spending habits isn’t most people’s idea of a good time.
Because of this, most companies will entice customers to complete their surveys by offering something in return, such as coupons, gift certificates, chances to win big, expensive prizes, and so forth. And when they do this, a lot of people bite; about 25% to be exact.
Traditional Online Survey Scams
Because of the relatively high number of online survey respondents, it was only a matter of time until scammers figured out how to use these statistics to defraud unsuspecting victims of their hard-earned money through a process known as phishing. In other words, scam artists would use legitimate-looking surveys to steal people’s personal information, such as address, phone number, bank account details, and more.
After all, in many instances, these fraudulent surveys are well done and look completely legitimate, and are intended to mimic large banks such as Chase and Bank of America. As such, you might never suspect you were being scammed until it was far too late.
A New Twist to Online Survey Scams
More recently however, the HighYa team has noticed a growing trend of companies, primarily within the anti-aging and skincare industries, who are taking tactics once reserved only for scammers and turning it into a money-generating machine.
Instead of stealing directly from your bank account though, these “legitimate” companies will often lead you to believe that you can earn a free gift by filling out a quick online survey. What you don’t realize is that this “free” gift will quickly turn into an autoship program, where you’ll continue to receive a regular supply of a highly overpriced and ineffective product (for an in-depth look at this trend, be sure to read through our Exposing the Widespread Scam of Anti-Aging Products & Free Trials article).
Here’s how one HighYa reader claims the scam works:
“When I tried to access my online bank account I was presented with an offer to answer survey questions about my bank in exchange for a free gift. I took the survey and then was redirected to a page showing a selection of “gifts” requiring payment of a shipping charge. I chose the Skinology face cream and gave my debit info to pay 4.95 shipping. I received the product and my account was debited 4.95. A few weeks later, my account was debited for $92 by the same company. When I called to complain a woman with a hard to understand accent on a choppy phone connection said I had agreed to their terms and conditions, which involved a subscription for their product. The fact is I only agreed to pay 4.95 shipping for the one free trial product. I asked my bank if they were actually doing a survey and they said they had nothing to do with any online survey. It’s a scam!”
These companies understand that most banks and credit card companies send special offers to their customers, so they’ll mimic the same look and feel in their emails. The key difference here is that real banks will only provide access to these offers after you’ve signed into your account, while the less-than-stellar companies claim to provide these “gifts” without signing in at all.
But with such well-made emails, how in the world can you immediately identify these scams and avoid falling victim? Let’s take a look.