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Do not trust the "2020 Opinion Survey" scam

Also Known As: 2020 Opinion Survey pop-up
Damage level: Medium

What is "2020 Opinion Survey"?

"2020 Opinion Survey" is a scam run on deceptive websites. It operates by claiming that users have been selected to win a reward, which they can receive by completing a brief survey.

At the time of research, the fake prizes were cosmetic products, however, other rewards might also be offered by this scam (e.g. electronic devices of popular brands, gift cards and vouchers, cash, etc.).

Rather than receiving any rewards, however, users are redirected to other deceptive/scam sites, which promote dubious/fake products, trick users into paying bogus fees or revealing their personal information such as names, communication/social account credentials, banking and credit card details, and so on.

Typically, access to websites running "2020 Opinion Survey" (and others similar to it) are accessed via redirects caused by intrusive ads or potentially unwanted programs (PUAs) already infiltrated into the system.

2020 Opinion Survey scam

When a web page promoting the "2020 Opinion Survey" is accessed, it displays a pop-up window claiming that visitors have been selected to receive a complimentary reward. To qualify, they must complete a survey, which will take no longer than thirty seconds.

This survey is supposedly anonymous and used for marketing purposes. In gratitude for completing it, users are promised a gift of over seventy dollars. After the pop-up is closed ("OK" is clicked), visitors are presented with a multi-choice questionnaire. The questions mainly concern "testwebsite.com" (e.g. visit frequency, rating, potential improvements and the user's gender).

Once this survey is complete, the scheme claims to check which prizes are available and lists the bogus rewards. When any reward is selected ("Claim Reward" is pressed), people are redirected to different deceptive/scam websites.

These can request bogus shipping fees (e.g. for the gift users have supposedly won), ask to pay for registration/subscription, sell dubious products (often nonexistent, and hence buyers will receive nothing), steal personal and financial information, etc.

Therefore, trusting "2020 Opinion Survey" or the web pages to which it redirects can lead to serious issues such as financial loss, serious privacy concerns and even identity theft.

As well as causing redirects to deceptive/scam and other untrusted, malicious sites, PUAs have additional dangerous capabilities. They can also deliver intrusive ads, which diminish the browsing experience, redirect to harmful web pages and stealthily download/install rogue software (e.g. PUAs).

Other types can hijack browsers by modifying settings (and restricting/denying access to settings) to promote bogus search engines. PUAs often track data. They can monitor browsing activity (browsing and search engine histories) and collect personal information (IP addresses, geolocations and users' personal details).

This sensitive data is typically shared with third parties (potentially, cyber criminals) intent on misusing it for profit. The presence of unwanted apps on devices is a serious privacy concern and can lead to system infiltration and infections.

Therefore, to ensure device integrity and user safety, you are strongly advised to remove all suspicious applications and browser extensions/plug-ins immediately upon detection.

Threat Summary:
Name 2020 Opinion Survey pop-up
Threat Type Phishing, Scam, Social Engineering, Fraud.
Fake Claim Scam claims users will receive a reward for completing a survey.
Related Domains 03-secure[.]com
Serving IP Address (03-secure[.]com)
144.202.55.201
Symptoms Fake error messages, fake system warnings, pop-up errors, hoax computer scan.
Distribution methods Compromised websites, rogue online pop-up ads, potentially unwanted applications.
Damage Loss of sensitive private information, monetary loss, identity theft, possible malware infections.
Malware Removal (Windows)

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"Dear user, congratulations!", "Dear YouTube user, Congratulations!", "Congratulations Walmart shopper!" and "Dear [ISP name] user, Congratulations!" are some examples of other scams similar to "2020 Opinion Survey". These schemes use social engineering to encourage users into performing certain actions.

There are various scam models employed: prize giveaways, "incredible" offers, claims that an essential piece of software is outdated, warnings that the system is infected and/or at risk, etc. The only purpose of such scams is to generate revenue for the designers. Therefore, you are advised to exercise caution when browsing.

How did potentially unwanted applications install on my computer?

PUAs proliferate via the download/install set-ups of other programs. "Bundling" is the term used to describe this deceptive marketing method of pre-packing regular software with unwanted or malicious additions.

By rushing through download/installation processes (e.g. ignoring terms, skipping steps, etc.), many users risk unintentionally allowing bundled content onto the system. Some PUAs have "official" download pages, which are commonly promoted by deceptive/scam sites. When clicked, intrusive ads can execute scripts to download/install PUAs without users' permission.

How to avoid installation of potentially unwanted applications

You are advised to research all software and download it only from official and verified sources. Untrustworthy download channels (free file-hosting websites, P2P sharing networks [BitTorrent, eMule, Gnutella, etc.] and other third party downloaders) can offer deceptive and bundled content and should not be used.

When downloading/installing, read the terms, explore all possible options, use the "Custom/Advanced" settings and opt-out of additional apps, tools, features and so on. Intrusive ads usually seem normal and innocuous, however, they can redirect to dubious sites (e.g. gambling, pornography, adult-dating, etc.).

If you encounter these advertisements/redirects, check the system and immediately remove all suspect applications and/or browsers extensions/plug-ins. If your computer is already infected with PUAs, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows to automatically eliminate them.

Text initially presented by the "2020 Opinion Survey" scam:

Background:

 

2020 Opinion Survey
Testwebsite.com

 

---------


Pop-up:

 

Dear Testwebsite.com Visitor!

Your connection has been selected to get a complimentary reward!

In order to qualify, just complete this 30-second, anonymous marketing survey, and to say thank you for providing valuable consumer feedback, you'll be able to claim one or more rewards worth over $70!

Thank you for your time!

OK

Text presented in the survey provided by the "2020 Opinion Survey" scam:

1: How many times do you visit Testwebsite.com in a week?
2: How would you rate your overall experience with testwebsite.com?
3: How did you find out about Testwebsite.com ?
4: What's one thing that you would improve with testwebsite.com?
5: Lastly, do you identify as a Male or Female?

Screenshot of the web page displayed after the survey is complete:

2020 Opinion Survey scam page displayed after the survey is complete

Text presented in this page:

Survey Completed

Thank You!

Submitting your answers and checking our stock levels for available rewards, thank you for your patience.

Screenshot of the page listing the fake reward options:

Page fo choosing the fake reward from 2020 Opinion Survey scam

Text presented in this page:

Thank you for your feedback and completing the survey!

You may now choose (1) of the following exclusive rewards below from one of our partners. Please understand that these products are currently in extremely high demand, and if you leave this page without claiming your reward, we have no choice but to give another visitor a chance to participate in our consumer rewards program.

Screenshots of websites to which the "2020 Opinion Survey" scam redirects:

Website 2020 Opinion Survey redirects to sample 1 Website 2020 Opinion Survey redirects to sample 2 Website 2020 Opinion Survey redirects to sample 3 Website 2020 Opinion Survey redirects to sample 4

The appearance of "2020 Opinion Survey" scam (GIF):

2020 Opinion Survey scam gif

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Quick menu:

How to identify a pop-up scam?

Pop-up windows with various fake messages are a common type of lures cybercriminals use. They collect sensitive personal data, trick Internet users into calling fake tech support numbers, subscribe to useless online services, invest in shady cryptocurrency schemes, etc.

While in the majority of cases these pop-ups don't infect users' devices with malware, they can cause direct monetary loss or could result in identity theft.

Cybercriminals strive to create their rogue pop-up windows to look trustworthy, however, scams typically have the following characteristics:

  • Spelling mistakes and non-professional images - Closely inspect the information displayed in a pop-up. Spelling mistakes and unprofessional images could be a sign of a scam.
  • Sense of urgency - Countdown timer with a couple of minutes on it, asking you to enter your personal information or subscribe to some online service.
  • Statements that you won something - If you haven't participated in a lottery, online competition, etc., and you see a pop-up window stating that you won.
  • Computer or mobile device scan - A pop-up window that scans your device and informs of detected issues - is undoubtedly a scam; webpages cannot perform such actions.
  • Exclusivity - Pop-up windows stating that only you are given secret access to a financial scheme that can quickly make you rich.

Example of a pop-up scam:

Example of a pop-up scam

How do pop-up scams work?

Cybercriminals and deceptive marketers usually use various advertising networks, search engine poisoning techniques, and shady websites to generate traffic to their pop-ups. Users land on their online lures after clicking on fake download buttons, using a torrent website, or simply clicking on an Internet search engine result.

Based on users' location and device information, they are presented with a scam pop-up. Lures presented in such pop-ups range from get-rich-quick schemes to fake virus scans.

How to remove fake pop-ups?

In most cases, pop-up scams do not infect users' devices with malware. If you encountered a scam pop-up, simply closing it should be enough. In some cases scam, pop-ups may be hard to close; in such cases - close your Internet browser and restart it.

In extremely rare cases, you might need to reset your Internet browser. For this, use our instructions explaining how to reset Internet browser settings.

How to prevent fake pop-ups?

To prevent seeing pop-up scams, you should visit only reputable websites. Torrent, Crack, free online movie streaming, YouTube video download, and other websites of similar reputation commonly redirect Internet users to pop-up scams.

To minimize the risk of encountering pop-up scams, you should keep your Internet browsers up-to-date and use reputable anti-malware application. For this purpose, we recommend Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows.

What to do if you fell for a pop-up scam?

This depends on the type of scam that you fell for. Most commonly, pop-up scams try to trick users into sending money, giving away personal information, or giving access to one's device.

  • If you sent money to scammers: You should contact your financial institution and explain that you were scammed. If informed promptly, there's a chance to get your money back.
  • If you gave away your personal information: You should change your passwords and enable two-factor authentication in all online services that you use. Visit Federal Trade Commission to report identity theft and get personalized recovery steps.
  • If you let scammers connect to your device: You should scan your computer with reputable anti-malware (we recommend Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows) - cyber criminals could have planted trojans, keyloggers, and other malware, don't use your computer until removing possible threats.
  • Help other Internet users: report Internet scams to Federal Trade Commission.

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About the author:

Tomas Meskauskas

Tomas Meskauskas - expert security researcher, professional malware analyst.

I am passionate about computer security and technology. I have an experience of over 10 years working in various companies related to computer technical issue solving and Internet security. I have been working as an author and editor for pcrisk.com since 2010. Follow me on Twitter and LinkedIn to stay informed about the latest online security threats. Contact Tomas Meskauskas.

PCrisk security portal is brought by a company RCS LT. Joined forces of security researchers help educate computer users about the latest online security threats. More information about the company RCS LT.

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Malware activity

Global malware activity level today:

Medium threat activity

Increased attack rate of infections detected within the last 24 hours.

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