Customer survey scam lures victims with gift card

We have all seen the ads: “Take our short survey and receive a $50 gift card!” Offers like this claim to be gathering customer feedback for legitimate businesses; however, many really may be promoting spammy products or be after your personal information. With the holidays practically upon us, scammers know that more people will be spending time online and looking for deals.

This scam works when you receive an email or text message inviting you to complete a customer satisfaction survey. The message says all you need to do is answer a few questions, and you will receive a gift card. The survey seems normal. One scam posing as an Amazon survey, asks where you shop online, how often you visit the website and how much time you spend on the internet each day.

After you complete the survey, the site says you are now entitled to your prize. Unfortunately, the $50 gift card is "out of stock," so you are instructed to choose one of several dubious products, often something like a weight loss kit and wrinkle cream. The survey was just an elaborate hoax to promote these other products.

In another version of this scam, the customer survey asks for personal information, such as address and credit card number. In this scam, con artists are really after information that can be used for identity theft.

How to spot a customer survey scam:

▪  Don't believe what you see. It's easy to steal the colors, logos and header of an established organization. Scammers can also make links look like they lead to legitimate websites and emails appear to come from a different sender.

▪  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 and then read it to see how they plan to use your information.

▪  When in doubt, do a quick web search. If the survey is a scam, you may find alerts or complaints from other consumers. The organization's real website may also have further information.

▪  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 can afford to give away $50 gift cards just for answering a few questions.

Everyone loves a good deal but by taking your time to thoroughly investigate offers that sound too good to be true, you could end up saving yourself tons of time, frustration and money.

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Kelvin Collins is president/CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Central Georgia and the CSRA Inc., serving 41 counties in Middle Georgia and the Central Savannah River area. This tips column is provided through the local BBB and the Council of Better Business Bureaus. Questions or complaints about a specific company or charity should be referred directly to the BBB at 478-742-7999, or by emailing