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Beware of online Wal-Mart scam

Shoppers could become fraud victims from survey

Posted: February 24, 2009 1:27 a.m.
Updated: February 24, 2009 4:30 a.m.
 

Wal-Mart lovers could become victims of credit card fraud and identity theft by filling out a circulating customer survey that promises a $150 reward in exchange for customer feedback.

The survey comes as an e-mail attachment and displays convincing attributes of a legitimate Wal-Mart survey.

It's sent with high importance stating, "You have been selected!" in the e-mail subject line and asks customers to rate their shopping experiences based on eight different criteria on a scale of excellent to poor.

It also includes text-input boxes to type in additional feedback and contact information including full name, phone number, and e-mail address. The final section asks for credit and debit card information so customers can "receive their payment."

"Wal-Mart would never ask people to e-mail their personal information," said Media Relations Manager Anna Taylor.

"Some customers can be chosen to participate in a customer satisfaction survey, but they are given that information in the store, not via e-mail."

According to Walmart.com, the company will never ask customers to e-mail personal information, such as password, bank account or credit card information.

Wal-Mart will never send customers an e-mail claiming to have lost customer information or needing to update records.

Wal-Mart may ask customers to verify personal information already provided but will never threaten to close customer accounts if they don't provide the information.

Finally, Wal-Mart does not send unsolicited e-mails that contain attachments.

"It is unfortunate some people use the good name of reputable businesses for their own personal gain," Taylor said. "Wal-Mart does not participate in these types of promotions and has no affiliation with them. We were very unhappy to learn that there was a scam intending to defraud our customers and encourage those who may have been affected to contact the Federal Trade Commission."

Scams come in all shapes and forms, said Sergeant Darren Harris of the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station.

"The biggest thing we tell people is don't believe much of what you read until you verify it," he said. "If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is."

Other scams recently impacting Santa Clarita residents include a secret shopper scam that enticed victims to exchange money orders for fraudulent checks and a real estate racket that charged homeowners for filing a free tax reassessment.

"We see it on a daily basis and we get reports of people being taken," Harris said. "They're either looking to get your identity or they're looking to get you to transfer money. It reaches the criminal level after the information is submitted and we can tell it has been compromised."

Wal-Mart tries to protect its customers from scams by encouraging them to report suspicious e-mails or surveys to abuse@walmart.com.

Additional details about how to identify e-mail scams are available at www.walmart.com/catalog/catalog.gsp?cat=605260#85566.

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