Survey Scams are running rampant on Facebook. We try to post reports on the new ones as soon as they hit, but sometimes there are just too many to keep up with. We thought it would be a good idea to break down a survey scam, so that it would make it easier for you and your Facebook friends to spot them for yourselves. One big clue that you are dealing with a scam is poor grammar, misspelled words and punctuation.
If you have spent any time at all on Facebook, then I’m sure you have seen some strange and outlandish status updates, or you may have seen messages like: Get a free iPad – Check how many people have viewed your profile or OMG – See what this girl did to get expelled from school, etc. This brings us to the first element of a survey scam:
Survey scammers typically use three types of lures to entice their victims:
1. Sensational or Extreme Headlines – if you see a status update that starts off with “OMG…”, “SHOCKING…” or “You have to see this…” there is a good chance you are dealing with a survey scam.
2. Offers that sound too good to be true – Have you seen status updates from your friends or received Facebook messages promising you a free or drastically reduced priced iPhone or iPad? If so, this is a common ploy of a survey scam. Always remember, if an offer sounds too good to be true then it probably is.
3. Additional Facebook features or functionality – Some of these Facebook scams offer you the ability to see who has viewed your profile or see who has deleted you as a friend. Facebook doesn’t provide developers the access to the information required to create such applications. THEY ARE ALL SCAMS!
Once a scammer lures you in, and you are tempted enough to click the “bait,” the next step is for the scammer to set the proverbial hook. In order to proceed, you are typically asked to install a Facebook application, share a link to the scam, like a page, etc. Some of the more sophisticated applications complete all of the acts just mentioned automatically. This called being “like-jacked” or “click-jacked.” The scam is often deceitful, and will have behind the scenes code that will cause you to “like” their scam page and/or spread their spam message to your newsfeed.
Some of the more rudimentary scams require you to physically click “like”, “share” or they will require you to manually publish an item to your newsfeed.
Once you jump through all of the hoops presented to you by the scammer, you have a reasonable expectation to access the video, prize or other content that captured your attention in the first place. Not so fast! At this stage of the Facebook scam, you are usually asked to complete a survey of some kind before proceeding. Another common ploy is to require you to download and play a game like Frogger. The scammer will often tell you that the survey is required to prove that you are a human and not just a bot trying to access their content.
If they were clever enough, and you proceed with the survey or download, then they got you! And you are left holding the bag. You are not going to receive that cute little, exclusive Farmville animal, or the SHOCKING video of what the girl did on her webcam. You can also be certain that no free iPad will be arriving in the mail soon either.
So why do they go through all of this trouble? In a word – MONEY! What the scammers don’t want you to know is that each time someone completes one of their silly surveys they get paid.
Some of the scams require you to provide your name, address, date of birth, cell phone number, etc. This information can be used by marketers, hackers and identity thieves to wreck havoc in your personal and financial life. If the scam requires you to enter your cell phone, there is a good chance that you are signing up for premium services. It is imperative that you keep a close watch on your phone bill, so you can contest and reverse any bogus charges.
If the scam required you to download Frogger or some other file, there is a good chance that your system has been compromised and infected with some sort of malware. You should immediately disconnect your computer from the internet and run a complete system scan with a trusted and reputable anti-virus program.
The Clean Up
If you did fall prey to a Facebook scam, there are definitive actions you should take to minimize the damage it may cause to you and your Facebook friends.
- You need to clean up your newsfeed, so that the message isn’t spammed out to your friends. You don’t want them victimized by the same scam. It only takes a handful of careless users to cause these scams to spread virally on Facebook. To remove an item from your Wall, simply locate the post and click the small “x” in the top right corner of the posting in question.
- If you did install a rogue application, you need to remove it from your account. You don’t want a dishonest developer having access to your personal information, and you don’t want them using your account to spread their scams.
- Notify your friends to disregard any strange or questionable postings and messages they may have received from you.