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Scam Alert

A Survey Con Can Cost You Big

3 ways crooks can trick you (and don't click on the spider video)

Links to your friends with shocking videos

Emails and advertisements on legitimate websites promise a free tablet computer or other goodies for your "vote" on a would-be presidential candidate or another in-the-news topic.

At best, these are ruses that allow unscrupulous "researchers" to earn commissions for collecting responses from you. Forget about getting a tablet computer — what you may actually get is a barrage of spam.

At worst, these come-ons are meant to get you to click on a link that infects your computer with software that collects your online banking numbers or hijacks your personal files.

Scammers know this kind of bait has lost some of its appeal, so now on Facebook, YouTube and other sites they're promising exciting video clips: a celebrity's mishap, a natural disaster or, the latest, a "disgusting" video of a spider crawling under someone's skin.

With the spider scam, if you click on the video "play" button, you're actually doing the scammers' work for them, before you're sent off to a survey page. You're sharing the original link with all of your social network friends, setting them up for more of the same.

Also of interest: Fraud alert or credit freeze to fight identity theft? >>

Sid Kirchheimer is the author of Scam-Proof Your Life, published by AARP Books/Sterling.

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