Federal officials are warning Americans about a personal survey scammers are sending around in an effort to collect fake information.
Fraudulent schemes like this emphasize the need to remain vigilant in the midst of a pandemic, Steve Francis, director of the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center, said in a statement Wednesday.
The scammers deliver fake surveys via email and text messages and promise free prizes in exchange for filling out the survey, including an iPad Pro. They ask for credit card information in order to deduct shipping costs for the prize- which scammers then steal, putting victims at risk of identity and credit card fraud.
Unless from a known and verified source, consumers should never click on links in text messages or emails that claim to be a vaccine survey, Homeland Security Investigations said in a news release.
None of the Food and Drug Administration-approved vaccine manufacturers are conducting post-inoculation surveys, authorities said, making any claim that one is currently fraudulent.
Recipients of such messages are encouraged not to open them, click any links or provide any personal information whatsoever.
Victims should contact their online payment services and report the incident to their financial institutions.
Scam messages and emails can be reported to the government's Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center at IPRCenter.gov or Covid 19 Fraud dhs.gov.
Scammers often come up with new ways to steal credit cards details and other personal information; other common methods include phishing, unsolicited requests for personal information and impersonating businesses or government agencies.
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Consumers should be cautious when using their payment information online, particularly when they are asked to do so in unusual circumstances.
Companies do not contact individuals and ask for usernames or passwords for their own platforms. And when in doubt, users can contact the site directly or go to its customer service department.