April 29th, 2009 by Jared Bothwell
A story came up recently regarding a survey scam which is doing the rounds. I was pleasantly surprised then when I also received the survey invitation supposedly from McDonald’s. Below is the text from the email I received.
Dear McDonald’s Customer,
We are planning big changes for 2009 at McDonald’s New Zealand chain of restaurants and because your opinion is very important to us, we invite you to take a short Customer Satisfaction Survey that will help us improve the quality of our food and services.
We know your time is valuable, so we will give you a $50 bonus just for taking our quick 7 question survey. The entire process will take no more than 5 minutes.
Terms and conditions apply. Click here to take the survey.
You can participate in this survey only once.
© 2009 McDonald’s. All references marked with a ™ or © are trade marks of McDonald’s Corporation and its affiliates except where third party trade mark ownership is indicated. All rights reserved.
While the email is effectively a spam email, there are two reasons why it drew my attention.
- The email purports to be a survey invitation
- The email has received considerable attention by the main stream press.
I thought then it would be useful to issue some guidelines on how to spot a fake online survey by critiquing the McDonald’s attempt.
The following are the key points that highlight the survey invite as a scam.
1. The survey invite ended up in my SPAM folder.
While I get a number of false positives in my spam folder, the fact that your mail client smells something fishy should set your alarms bells ringing.
2. I have never given McDonald’s my email address.
It can be hard to keep track of who you actually have given your email address to. But I was pretty sure that I had not given it to McDonald’s.
3. The survey invite had no unsubscribe
Under NZ email laws all commercial messages are required to enable recipients to unsubscribe from the mailing list. The fact that this email did not have this is a clear indicator of something fishy going on.
4. The survey invite did not have any one’s contact details.
When we send out a survey invite we always include the name of the survey manager and their contact details. This is to ensure that if anyone has any questions regarding the survey they can speak to someone about these.
I would advise that if you receive a survey invite out of the blue and it fails to meet the conditions that have been outlined above – just delete it!
While the survey itself was full or errors (New Zealand was called New Zeeland), the most alarming thing about the survey was the fact that it asked for an incredible amount of personal details.
- Credit card details
- Date of Birth
- Postal Address
- Bank Account Details
The credit card and bank details were supposedly to be used to pay an incentive to the survey participant. Now I think you would have to have you head checked if you ever gave your credit card details in an online survey. But if you must remember one thing, never ever give your credit card details when completing an online survey.
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