This is Part 1, a series of articles on the different types of online scams out here and how to look out for them and save your money and preventing your information from falling into the wrong hands.
In the first part, I'll cover something called Survey Scams, since this is one of the most frequent ones you'll encounter. Mostly through online ads and Whatsapp forwards from friends and family who've fallen for them.
Usually, you'll end up with emails that have Survey entry forms like the one I created above with some tempting offer, which once you click, will take you to a bigger form asking for more information about out you - phone, email, date of birth and a lot more personal information. If you decide to offer your information to win this holiday, you'll be prompted to share this super offer with your friends for more chances to win.
Now you've ended up getting your friends to offer their data as well to this scammer for a chance to win this.
If the scammer is content enough to get information from people and selling the information to marketing folks, this will end. Some scammers go to the next step and start contacting everyone who entered and asks willing people to send in a 'deposit' of a few thousand rupees to get the vacation coupons they've won. They justify the cost by mentioning taxes and handling charges.
There are no winners here, just the scammer who's gotten rich from this process. How do you spot these scams? Here are a few tips.
This section would be better named, "If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is". If someone is willing to give you a free vacation or a shiny new PS5 gaming console for free, there's certainly a catch somewhere.
What about those offers of earning 5000-10000 rupees a month just filling online surveys? In these types of scams, once the form is filled with the contact (and usually education and previous employment) details, they contact the person asking for a deposit to get you information on how to do this. Even if they are paid, most surveys don't pay enough to make it a steady stream of income - they pay a few rupees per survey.
No Contact or Company information
Look for information about the company or ways to contact the company on the site where you land. If you don't see a contact page or an About Us page with people, addresses and phone numbers, you're likely on a scan site. If the company doesn't build trust with their users, you're better off staying away.
Look for reviews online
If you feel the offer is worth signing up for, spend a few minutes searching online for reviews about the company and its offers. You may save your money and pride by spending a few extra minutes doing some research
There's no free lunch
... unless you're a social media influencer (just kidding).
Look before you go and click into these incredible offers you come across emails and online ads. Sometimes the links you click may end up being more nefarious than these survey scams, but that's the topic of a future post in this series.