(RELEASE) The Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois warns eager shoppers to stay away from online offers to become a "tester" just to get a free iPad.
Apple announced the iPad in January and US customers have been able to pre-order since March for the April release. Because Apple bumped the delivery date for later orders, rumors started circulating that the company did not have enough iPads to meet pre-order demand.
"It was inevitable that scammers would take advantage of the excitement over the iPad to rip people off, just like they did with the iPod and the iPhone," said Steve J. Bernas president & CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago & Northern Illinois. "Bogus offers most commonly claim you can become a tester or researcher and get an iPad for free. This is a deal that sounds, and definitely is, too good to be true."
Tech Web site GeekSugar.com recently warned about spam e-mails requesting product testers for the iPad. The e-mail directs to the Web site Testitandkeepit.com which claims that they are looking for people to test the iPad for a couple months, as compensation you get to keep the iPad. The biggest red flag with this offer is that you have to provide your e-mail address and password in order to "tell your friends."
Offers to become a tester on Facebook also cropped up but with a different intent. As software company Sophos explains in an online video, the Facebook page "iPad Researchers Wanted-Get an iPad Early and Keep It" was designed to trick people into signing up for a cell phone subscription service that cost $10 a month. Sophos alerted Facebook to the page-which had already racked up more than 3,500 fans-and it was taken down, but users should be on the lookout for similar offers.
The BBB also warns there are phishing scams consumers should avoid. The computer security company McAfee reported on their security blog that spam e-mails have landed in inboxes offering free iPads-the catch is that you have to buy items first and provide your credit card number.
If you're planning to buy an iPad, Bernas suggests consumers shop through an authorized retailer or directly with Apple. He adds, "Eventually secondary markets for the iPad will spring up online on sites like Craigslist; but if you plan on buying an iPad secondhand, purchase it from someone local and never wire money as payment."
For more advice on how to be a smart online shopper, visit bbb.org/us/consumer-tips-technology/