The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Opinion

April 12, 2014

Take a survey, win a cruise; not going to happen

A Clinton woman called me last week to report on a phone call she received. She first received a call from a young woman, who asked her to take a short survey.

It sounded innocent enough, so she agreed, and answered a few questions, none of which sounded like they pried for personal information. At the end of the survey, the young surveyor told the woman to expect a follow-up call from another representative. Sure enough, almost as soon as the young surveyor hung up, another man called, claiming to represent Royal Cruise Lines.

This caller went through a long spiel on how the cruise line offered some folks free cruises, and acted as if he checked several lists to see if the Clinton woman’s name appeared on the lists. He sounded over-joyed to tell her that her name did appear on a list of cruise winners. All he needed to do to confirm the winning was to get a credit or debit card number, to pay the taxes. The Clinton woman said she lacked a credit or debit card, so the caller asked if she might borrow one.

Does any of this sound suspicious? Well, it did to the Clinton woman, who smelled a rat and hung up. After doing some checking, we found out Royal Cruise Lines does not exist. Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines does exist though, in a really big way, floating some of the largest passenger ships in the world. The caller employed that well-worn trick of using a sound-alike name to lend credibility to himself. And we determined Royal Caribbean did not conduct these surveys, or offer free cruises.

This story illustrates a point I can’t make too often — never give out your personal information to a phone caller you do not know.

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