A free vacation aboard a cruise ship -- and all you have to do is participate in a brief survey. What's not to like? A lot, it turns out.
I wrote about this cruise thing a couple of years ago. So now any time someone gets one of these calls and does a little Googling, they find my column and often shoot me an email asking what's up.
I got a message the other day from Clarice, who said she listened to the pitch for a few minutes, gave her name and ZIP code, and then decided to hang up. She's worried that she could now end up being targeted for identity theft.
That's unlikely. What's more likely is that she's going to get more of these cruise calls at regular intervals, and no matter how many times she asks to be placed on the marketing company's do-not-call list, the calls will continue. At least that's what's happened with me.
Here's the scoop: The survey requires you to answer all sorts of questions that represent a gold mine of data for marketers. Are you a homeowner? What's your educational background? What sort of TV service do you have? Do you have health insurance?
You'll then be pitched a wide variety of services that you probably don't want. And finally you're told that you'll receive that free cruise.
In my case, a little digging revealed that the cruise line involved actually went bust a year earlier, and that the cruise ship on which I was going to enjoy my vacation had been sold for scrap.
I was subsequently asked to provide a credit card number so I could confirm my booking, and that's when I stopped dealing with these guys.
So what's my advice to Clarice and others who get these calls? Walk away. Don't participate in the survey and don't cough up any info.
If you do give a little data, you may be hit with a bunch of spam or marketing pitches, but you probably won't have your ID stolen.
And if these jokers keep calling, let the Federal Trade Commission know.