The Better Business Bureau (BBB) issued an alert on February 21st about a reoccurring scam.  As BBB notes in its alert, this type of customer survey scam comes back often, with slight variations each time.  And each time, the scammers count on consumers being too busy to stop and realize the only “reward” is the personal and financial information the scammers will get.

This scam comes via an email announcing either “Your Reward Points are Expiring. Claim Now!” or”Your eBalance Points are Expiring Soon!” (scamalert@council.bbb.org; “It’s Back! Survey Scam Strikes Again”).  As BBB explains, consumers will be tricked into believing this is a legitimate email as the scammers use the name of a well-known store; the BBB alert notes that stores as well-known as Macy’s, Walgreens and others have been used in these types of scams.

The consumer getting this email may, in fact, shop at the store named by the scammers.  There’s a link in the email asking the consumer to take the attached survey and tell the store about his recent shopping experience there.  The reward for doing so? A promise of $100.00 or more in “bonus-points” for just completing the survey.

Don’t open the link because doing so can result in many outcomes but none are good.  While the survey might be real, the consumer gets ads for products once the survey is done.  Or else, the survey is really a phishing scam that asks the consumer for banking and credit card information.  Or once opened, the survey link downloads malware to the consumer’s computer.

The BBB alert contains 4 tips for spotting a survey scam:

  1. Email has consumer’s personal information: while the scam email looks as if it’s personalized, the consumer has never signed up for emails from this particular company;
  2. Act ASAP: the scam email tells the consumer to act immediately or else something terrible will happen;
  3. Bad grammar, typos: the BBB alert contains a warning I’ve previously noted –that being, that scammers are getting better all the time at copying a company’s logo, name and email format.  But incorrect wording, bad grammar, typos and awkward phrasing are among the tip-offs that the email is a scam; and
  4. Hover over the URLs: As BBB notes, while the hyperlinked text will say one thing, the link itself will point the consumer somewhere else.  A consumer who hovers over the links can see if they lead to the business or company’s official website or some variation of the domain name.

The best tip?  When in doubt, don’t open the link!