Beware of scam surveys and fake free offers

18 September 2013

SCAMwatch is reminding people to beware of online scams – surveys, emails and social-media posts – offering fake gift vouchers or other bogus inducements in return for disclosing credit card and other personal information.

While many online surveys are legitimate and may be backed by some reward, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and Woolworths continue to receive complaints about possible scams misusing the Woolworths name and logo, going under such titles as ‘Get a free $50 Woolworths voucher’ or ‘Customer Satisfaction Survey’.

Scams such as these often ask people to provide credit card or other personal details, which criminals can use to commit identity theft and other fraud.

Woolworths is advising people that all its official competitions are listed at www.woolworths.com.au on its Promotions and Competitions page.

How these scams work

  • These scams abuse the brand names and logos of well-known companies and products to make them look legitimate.
  • As with many legitimate offers and online posts, you might be asked to complete a survey and/ or pass on an offer to others before you can claim a voucher or other inducement or enter a competition. But the scams will take your valuable information and give you only disappointment in return – the products don't arrive or the vouchers are fakes and the retailers won’t honour them.
  • Recent scams have related to supermarkets, coffee shops, smart phones and tablets, including offers featured on Facebook.

Example
Sharon was checking her Facebook page and found her sister had ‘liked’ a link to a Woolworths survey which offered a $150 voucher for a five minute survey. Sharon completed the questions, filled in personal details at the end (she was a Woolworths online customer so figured they already had her details anyway) and received the voucher in her email. Sharon went into Woolworths to do her grocery shopping only to discover at the checkout that it was a fake. When she went home she was shocked to discover unauthorised transactions on her credit card.

Protect yourself

  • Be very wary when, for example, filling in surveys linked from social networking sites – being asked to provide such detailed information as Medicare numbers or credit-card security codes should ring alarm bells.
  • You should check whenever you can whether offers are legitimate, even those passed on from people you know. If the offers are represented as coming directly from a particular retailer, check they are listed on the retailers’ official websites – or call a business’ official customer-service line. Don’t click on links or call numbers listed in the offers – they can link to fake websites and even fake call centres.
  • If you think you have provided your account details to a scammer, contact your financial institution immediately.

Report

You can report scams to the ACCC via the report a scam page on SCAMwatch.

More information

For more information on this particular scam, check out the Woolworths Scam Alert at http://www.woolworths.com.au/wps/wcm/connect/website/woolworths/about+us/woolworths-news/scamalert.

Stay one step ahead of scammers, follow @SCAMwatch_gov on Twitter or visit http://twitter.com/SCAMwatch_gov

Read more