It's confession time - I fly a lot. It's one of the parts of my job that is both a blessing and a curse. I've been fortunate enough to see some lovely parts of the world as well as spend nights in some rather dodgy places, and have had my fair share of radiation thanks to travelling near the upper realms of the atmosphere.
My airline of choice, whenever possible, is our Australian icon - the flying kangaroo. It's always a pleasure, particularly when leaving a foreign country for home, to walk aboard and say "G'day" to the air crew and have them understand & reciprocate. It's the first part of feeling like being home again.
As a frequent flyer I like to find ways to earn additional frequent flyer points - they're great for upgrades on flights or buying goodies in the frequent flyer store (that's where I got my coffee machine!). So when I get email offering ways to earn additional points they get my attention.
That brings us to the following - I had an email arrive in my inbox with the subject line reading "Customer Satisfaction Survey, Earn up to 95 AUD Plus 1,000 bonus Qantas Points*."
The email looked legitimate enough - I get a lot of email from this great carrier so it was no surprise to me to get another one asking me to use another of their services, provide feedback, earn some points or spend them. The email looked legitimate enough and I was certainly tempted to get something in return for a few moments providing feedback. But something didn't quite look right.
Here's an image of parts of the email itself - see if you can spot some of the more "obvious" faults:
- The points and status credits are effective from 18 May 2017 - but it was August 2017 when I received this!
- The banner shows the frequent flyer level as being BRONZE - I'm not a Bronze frequent flyer (and I'm fairly sure this airline knows that too)
- Filling in the survey is apparently "completely anonymous" but they're offering me $95 and 1000 points - how would these rewards be delivered to me if it's anonymous?
- There's odd capitalisation used in the text
- There's odd line spacing which isn't consistent throughout the email
- It just didn't "feel" right
- There was also the email address that showed up - I'm used to things coming from an address tied to the loyalty program for this airline but this one is just plain wrong!
I hovered over some of the links in the email and they too looked unusual - can you see what I mean?
I should acknowledge I did click on the main survey link to see what would come up and a survey page did appear - I quickly looked at the first question before I closed the page but didn't take a screenshot nor do I remember exactly what it was, however it looked like it could fool most people into giving up some personal information. (I strongly recommend against trying to browse to any of the disclosed links in the images above)
So what does this all mean?
- You're going to get bombarded with email from all sorts of sources every day - some of these are legitimate and some are not. But with every email you get you need to pay attention before clicking on any links, and if you do click on a link to open a page, carefully review the page before you provide any information.
- If it looks odd then be extra careful.
- If it's from a vendor or organisation you deal with a lot then don't get casual and drop your guard - double check before clicking.
- Before clicking on a link you should hover your mouse over the link and check the URL (web address) that shows up - if is there anything overly convoluted about it then perhaps don't click. However it is common for "marketing" emails to have long complex addresses for the various links in them so there are exceptions to this one (if you really must click the link then try it with your smart phone first - easier to replace a phone than an entire network)
- If in doubt, delete and move on - better to be safe than sorry
- Share this with others so they too can stay safe
Remember to take note of the emergency exit and be prepared to use it (in case you're wondering - that's the delete key), and try to not get distracted with earning fake points for a flight to certain doom!
Now fasten your seat-belt, stow your tray, return your seat to the upright position and get back to work :)