(ABC4) – Survey scams are making a comeback this spring, and officials are warning communities to be alert.
On March 21, a new survey scam with a COVID-19 twist is on the move and the Better Business Bureau is informing citizens how to stay safe.
According to BBB, these COVID-19 scams are popping up on the mobile devices of vulnerable individuals.
“Did you receive a text with a survey about your vaccine? It’s one of those scams that just keeps reappearing… each time with a new twist,” writes the Better Business Bureau. “This time, the phony survey claims to be from pharmaceutical company Pfizer, with questions about their COVID-19 vaccine.”
As the new scam circulates around the nation, the BBB urges individuals to be cautious and to keep a watchful eye.
COVID-19 scam breakdown
According to the Better Business Bureau, the scam makes its first appearance as either an email or a text message, under the false pretenses to be from Pfizer, one of the pharmaceutical companies producing an approved COVID-19 vaccine.
BBB says some of the time, the message tends to claim that you will receive money or a “free” product for completing a quick survey.
Officials say though this may sound tempting, “don’t click the link!”
They go on to include that “these survey scams have a variety of tricks.” BBB states that these COVID-19 scam links will then lead you to a survey that may appear real but is merely a scam to gather personal information such as credit card/bank account intel.
“The link may lead to a real survey, which upon completion, prompts you to sign up for a “free trial offer.” Victims reported to BBB Scam Tracker that they entered their credit card information to pay what they thought was a shipping fee. Instead, the scammers billed them many times more and never sent the product,” informs the bureau.
They add: “Just because scammers are currently impersonating Pfizer, doesn’t mean the other COVID-19 vaccine producers are off the hook. Watch out for variations claiming to be from Janssen and Moderna, too.”
Keeping a eye on the survey scam
Generally, when you received a link through unsolicited emails or texts, it is definitely not worth clicking. According to the Better Business Bureau, here are some ways to stay on top of the game and not fall victim to these petty crimes.
“The email claims to have information about you, but you never signed up for it,” BBB writes.
According to the bureau, these scams often manipulate their layout to dupe you. They pretend to be personalized for you, but they actually are “blast emails.”
“Don’t fall for this! If you never signed up for emails from a company, you shouldn’t be receiving them,” they warn.
“Always be wary of emails urging you to act immediately or face a consequence,” the bureau shares.
If the email or text pushes you to act immediately, that is a sign you are dealing with a scam.
“Scammers typically try to push you into action before you have had time to think,” BBB adds.
According to the Better Business Bureau, another sign that you are dealing with a scam is if there is a typo, strange phrasing and bad grammar.
“Scammers can easily copy a brand’s name, but awkward wording and poor grammar are typically a giveaway that the message is a scam,” BBB states.
Hover over the URLs to reveal the true destination.
According to BBB, “the hyperlinked text will say one thing, but the link will point somewhere else.”
When dealing with a suspicious email or text, make sure the links “actually lead to the business’s official website, not a variation of the domain name.”
For More Information
If you’ve spotted a scam (whether or not you’ve lost money), report it to BBB.org/ScamTracker. Your report can help others avoid falling victim to scams. Find more information about scams and how to avoid them at BBB.org/AvoidScams.
Sign up for BBB Scam Alerts to receive weekly notices of emerging scams to avoid.