If you’ve been on the Internet for a while, you’ve likely received your fair share of emails claiming that you been selected to complete a survey and thus go in the draw to win various prizes or “rewards”. These irritating marketing messages have been cluttering inboxes around the world for years, wasting our time and testing our patience.
At first glance, the emails appear to be from various high-profile companies such as airlines, or supermarket chains. But, in fact, the companies named in the emails are not sending the survey messages and are not associated with them in any way.
The decidedly dodgy companies that use these tactics to promote themselves or their clients are using stolen trademarks and logos in an attempt to capitalize on the targetted brand’s popularity.
Here’s what happens if you go ahead and click in the hope of getting the promised reward.
To illustrate, I’ll use a recent spam message that claims that I’ve been selected to receive a reward courtesy of Australian airline Qantas.
Of course, despite its appearance, the email has no connection to Qantas. (The message even spells the company’s name wrong in the “sender” field.)
If you fall for the ruse and click, you’ll be taken to a fraudulent website that is branded to create the illusion that it belongs to Qantas. Like the email, the site has no connection to the company.
A popup on the site claims that you have been selected as “Today’s lucky visitor” and requests that you complete a short survey about your experience with Qantas.
No matter what answers you give, you will always “win”.
Supposedly, you must claim within 5 minutes or you’ll miss out on your “reward”. This ruse is to hurry you along so you won’t have too much time to think about the dodgy tactics being used or scroll to the bottom of the page and read the fine print disclaimer that explains that the site has no connection to or association with any of the trademarks it uses.
In reality, the results are the same no matter how many times you visit the website. Even if you wait for more than 5 minutes, you can still go ahead and claim your supposed “reward”. Moreover, despite claims that the products offered are in extremely high demand and the company is about to run out of stock, there are always products still available every time you visit.
Clicking the OK button takes you to a third-party website that claims that you can get the free product by entering your name, address and contact details. The site also asks for your credit card information, ostensibly to cover a small delivery fee. What site you are taken too and what product you are offered depends on the “reward” you previously chose from the list.
So what happens next? Unless you read the fine print before ordering, you may not realize that you are actually signing up to an ongoing product subscription that can costs you hundreds of dollars a month. To avoid these charges, you must call the company and specifically cancel the subscription within a few days of ordering. However, the subscription cancelling process can be difficult and convoluted. And, many people report that, despite being charged exorbitant monthly fees, the promised products never arrive.
Never give your personal and financial information to a company that uses dodgy spam campaigns and deliberately deceptive tactics to promote itself. Such companies cannot be trusted with your credit card details or any other personal information.
There are multiple versions of these spam emails that use the logos and trademarks of a range of well-known companies around the world. But, regardless of which company they are falsely claiming to be associated with, they are all designed to convince you to provide your personal and financial information in exchange for a supposedly free product. And, most attempt to trick you into signing up for an expensive monthly product order that can be difficult to cancel.
Don’t get caught! If you receive one of these emails, the best thing to do is just hit “delete”.