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Home arrow Articles arrow Don't Sign Up For This

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Don't Sign Up For This Print
Written by Mike Noel   
Friday, 20 July 2007
Every once in a while I run across something that amazes me online. That is, something that is so sneaky at taking peoples money it's amazing. Here is the latest example: Whatever you do, DON'T complete the survey on this site. It will cost you $6/month if you do. Here's how this nefarious scheme hooks you.
There are lots of online surveys to tell you all kinds of things. You can find out what animal you are most like, which historical figure, what color, etc. So at first glance this site looks just like one of those surveys. Answer a few questions and then the survey will tell you which celebrity you are most like.
The first question is simple: are you male or female. After that there are a couple questions about your likes and dislikes. Then the survey asks for your name. That seems reasonable enough so far. They are going to customize the results or something like that. Up to this point I wasn't concerned at all but I thought the survey was fairly lame. Just two questions and they thought they knew which actor I was like. But then the next question sent red flags waving and large, loud klaxons blaring.
The next question asked for my cell number. ??? Why would they need that. I tried a bogus number just for fun to see if I could get my results. No chance. They detected that it was a fake and took me back to the screen to enter my cell number again. This time I looked around. Way down on the bottom of the screen (you have to scroll down for it) there is a legal disclaimer talking about the fees and the contract and how to cancel. I thought, "what? Am I signing up for something?". Then I noticed a single line of text at the top of the screen. It identifies the "survey" as a signup form for a celebrity gossip text messaging service. For only $6/mo they will send me celebrity gossip to my cell phone. Exciting.
I immediately left that website. That is so sneaky. I imagine there are thousands of people who would just enter their cell number so they can see their survey results and not realize that they are signing up for something. Now I understand why they ask for your name too. It used to confirm your billing info so they can register the service.
You really have to be careful online. Any time someone is asking you for information that doesn't make sense (like your cell number for a survey) you really need to look closely to make sure you know what you're doing. Either that or you'll end up paying for it.
Last Updated ( Friday, 20 July 2007 )

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