A BendBroadband customer recently reported that she responded to a pop-up survey that stated she would receive a free gift for responding to the survey. However, the catch was that the text at the bottom of the survey stated her credit card would be billed $49.95. These pop-up surveys are scams and not tied to BendBroadband in any way.
These annoying pop-up windows or online surveys often claim that you’ll get a free product in exchange for a few minutes of your time to complete the survey. After answering several questions about your telecom services, or your shopping experiences, you’re offered your choice of several free products.
To obtain your free product, you’re directed to click through to a website which takes you to yet another website. That website turns out to be a subscription trap. These websites are intended to trick you into believing that you’ll just pay a small shipping fee to receive your so-called free product. Instead, you’ll end up locked into paying a monthly fee.
Most people are aware that pop-up ads can be suspicious. So scammers attempt to make their ads look legitimate by adding in some personalized information – either related to a site you’ve recently visited, or information that can be gathered through your IP address. This info includes general geographic information (like your city or zip code), as well as your internet service provider.
Scammers will try to pique your interest by using slogans on websites, social media or even emails. These types of ads, often referred to as “clickbait”, are meant to entice you into taking a specific action, such as visiting a webpage, watching a video or answering a survey.
Avoid throwing your money out of the window by recognizing the red flags:
- You’re asked for your credit card number even though the reward offered is free.
- It’s too good to be true. Getting a free iPhone in exchange for a five-minute survey is an incredible deal. That alone should make you be suspicious.
- Ads or sponsored content includes exaggerated slogans that entice you to click through.
- The survey URL doesn’t end in “.com”, or “.org” unlike most legitimate company websites.
- Surveys include multiple choice boxes that don’t have to be ticked for you to progress to the next question.
- The survey is short, the questions very general and the survey doesn’t seem to be very useful.
Here are a few extra precautions you can take to protect yourself:
- Avoid pop-up surveys, especially if they offer free products – these are often a trap!
- Use your browser’s pop-up ad blocker (a quick search online will help you figure out how to do it on your browser).
- Do not assume a survey is legitimate just because it appears to be from your internet service provider (ISP), scammers can determine who your ISP is by reading your IP address.
- If prompted to complete a survey from your ISP, verify with your ISP that they have sent out the survey.
- If a pop-up window is particularly difficult to get rid of, consider turning off your computer. On mobile devices, restarting your device can sometimes solve the problem.
- If pop-up windows persist you may be dealing with malware. Keep your anti-malware software up to date and regularly run a scan to detect possible issues.
When you become aware of the pop-up survey scam, please report the scammers to the Federal Trade Commission Complaint Assistant. Surf safely!