Avoid Online Quiz and Survey Scams this Winter


Avoid Online Quiz and Survey Scams this Winter

Avoid Online Quiz and Survey Scams this Winter

Online quizzes and surveys seem like harmless fun and a great way to waste a little bit of time when you’re cooped up in the house because of the cold. However, that quiz telling you what fast food item you would be may not be as innocuous as it seems.

We’ve all been sucked into taking online quizzes or surveys when we’re bored and it’s not hard to see why. They’re quick, fun, and help pass the time. What was your first car? What is your favorite book? Where did you go to high school? Where were you born? Who is your favorite singer? These questions are probably ringing a bell because they are common online quiz questions. However, you have probably heard them somewhere else. Many websites use these types of questions as security questions to access accounts and scammers have taken notice.

What seems like a frivolous online quiz can soon turn into a fast opportunity for a phishing attack to gain access to your online accounts. Phishing.org defines “phishing” as “a cybercrime in which a target or targets are contacted by email, telephone, or text message by someone posing as a legitimate institution to lure individuals into providing sensitive data such as personally identifiable information, banking and credit card details, and passwords.” With online quizzes, the scammers will lure in victims to take their quiz (sometimes with fake prizes), then they will use quiz data to answer account security questions and gain access to anything from bank accounts to social media accounts.

As soon as scammers get into your accounts, they change the login information, thus ensuring you no longer have access to your own account. They then have unfettered access to do whatever they want with your sensitive information. Scammers can also send the same fake quizzes, and even malware, to your friends via social media messaging. This has probably happened to you before. Maybe you received an invite from a Facebook friend to take an online quiz. If you clicked on the link, then you probably noticed that a Facebook message to your entire friends list was generated with the same scam.

While not all online quizzes are a scam, it is important to know some of the markers of a scam quiz, such as:

  • Offering a gift card or prize for answering the quiz, especially if there is a limited number of prizes
  • Using fake social media accounts to push the quiz and/or prize
  • Using the logos of trusted companies to sow a feeling of trust

It is good practice to avoid online quizzes all together; and while surveys shared in your Facebook status can seem far more innocent, they can just as easily provide scammers with important information. These surveys often start with challenges like I want to see everyone fill this out, Let’s learn about each other!, or even I bet you can’t answer all these questions about yourself! Scammers prey on human beings’ natural inclination to talk about themselves or rise to a challenge. However, the scammers who originate these surveys can easily search for posts featuring their text and get personal information that way, making them just as unsafe as phishing quizzes hosted on other sites.

Social media privacy settings can help avoid scammers gaining too much personal information, so it is important to review these settings periodically. It is recommended to make as many things private as possible. The safest practice, however, remains limiting what personal information is put online in the first place.

If you suspect an online quiz is a phishing scam, report it to the Federal Trade Commission at ReportFraud.ftc.gov. The internet is an amazing place, filled with incredible ways to keep yourself occupied when winter blues set in, but it is also a place where criminals take every opportunity to get their hands on your information. With the right information, however, you can stay one step ahead!


Don’t answer another online quiz question until you read this | Consumer Advice (ftc.gov)

This online quiz is now confirmed to be a phishing scam | Malwarebytes Labs

Phishing | What Is Phishing?

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