It’s not uncommon for consumers to fall victim to email survey scams. Online surveys have become a haven for Internet scam artists who use the surveys to steal personal and financial information from their victims by using trending topics and the names of logos of well-known organizations. BBB is warning consumers about phony online surveys claiming to be from pharmaceutical company Pfizer seeking information about their COVID-19 vaccine, and advises consumers to be on the lookout for email or text variations of this scam claiming to be from other vaccine producers.

HOW THE SCAM WORKS

You receive an email or text message that claims to be from Pfizer, one of the pharmaceutical companies producing an approved COVID-19 vaccine. In some versions the message claims that you will receive money for completing a quick survey. Other versions offer a “free” product.

It sounds easy, but don’t click the link! These survey scams have a variety of tricks. 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. In other versions, the form is actually a phishing scam that requests banking and credit card information.

Spam filters typically filter out malicious email scams, however every once in a while, one will slip through the cracks. In general, it’s best not to click on links that come in unsolicited emails.

HOW TO SPOT A SURVEY SCAM OR MALICIOUS EMAIL

Personalized email. Scams often pretend to be personalized for you, but unless you subscribed or opted in to receive an email from a business or organization with whom you have a relationship, they are actually blast emails.

Urgency to act immediately. Scammers typically try to push you into action before you have had time to think. Always be wary of emails urging you to act immediately or face a consequence.

Typos, 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. For example, one version of the survey scam impersonating Pfizer uses the wrong company logo.

Links in disguise. Hover over URLs to reveal their true destination. Typically, the hyperlinked text will say one thing, but the link will point somewhere else. Make sure the links actually lead to the business’s official website, not a variation of the domain name.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

Read more about coronavirus scams on the Federal Trade Commission’s website and on BBB.org/coronavirus. Learn more about the disease at the CDC’s FAQ page.

BBB has identified many ways in which scammers are cashing in the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more about clinical trial scams, contract tracing cons, counterfeit face masks, and government agency impostors.

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.

BBB is a nonprofit, business-supported organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Most BBB services to consumers are free of charge. Visit bbb.org for more information. There are over 100 local, independent BBBs across the United States, Canada and Mexico, including BBB Serving Central East Texas, which was founded in 1985 and serves 19 counties.