Belfast Telegraph

Money Matters: Be wary of 'legal but unethical' questionnaires

By Simon Read

Is it just me or have the online crooks been getting busier recently?

I received a message this week that just said: "I decided to will the sum of $14,258,000.00 USD to you". Not all scams are so obvious.

Reader Peter Collen discovered that to his cost this year.

He writes: "I want to draw computer users' attention to a nasty scam which has been around since May this year. The banks have full knowledge of the scam, which they say is 'legal but unethical'."

In late summer, he saw an online page pop up asking him to complete a questionnaire for a well-known company; in return he would get a free gift - skin serum, which duly arrived.

Peter went into hospital for major surgery in October, which put him out of action for many weeks.

"But when I next checked my bank account online, I was horrified to find I was heavily overdrawn.

"On further checking, I discovered that 10 debit withdrawals had been made on my account, totalling £522."

On investigating, he discovered that hidden in the very small print of the online offer that he'd taken up would have been instructions to advise cancellation within 14 days or they would continue sending samples and debiting his account.

After its own investigation, the bank has refunded the amounts. But Peter is keen to warn others so they are not duped.

"My advice to anyone who surfs the net is to delete any requests to complete a questionnaire for a company, however bona fide it may appear."

That's good advice.

Belfast Telegraph