Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Spam Report: Not Tickle-ish

As part of my on-going service, I would like to provide you with a report on a questionable banner ad you might have encountered in your e-travels.

Tickle is primarily a match making site or on-line dating site. But there are banner ads you may have encountered that are for various tests you can take.

The test that caught my eye was an I.Q. test. You know the one, it has a picture of Einstein on it or some colourful I.Q. test blocks. If you are curious, you click through. You are then brought to a 2 page I.Q. test which promises to tell you great things about your intelligence profile and even what careers that you would be suitable for. And it is "developed by PhDs" and "PhD certified"

Great. I'm in.

So I start answering the test questions. It takes a significant amount of time. Some of the questions are really easy, and others are quite tricky. After the second page, I am interested  in what my report will be. It seems like a valid test.

But at this point, I know something that you might not be aware of. I have encountered tickle before. I know that it is a match-making site. I have seen the popup ads for tickle at one of the sites I visit all the time. I have seen them enough to know how persistent they are.

I am also wary of dating sites because of a spam email I received, got curious about and investigated. This spam mail dating site was an email and personal information collection scheme!

Anyway, back to the test... Sure enough, after the final page of the I.Q. test, there is a screen that basically says, "Register on our site and we will give you the results of your test."


Grumble, grumble, ... waste my time ..., should never have clicked,...

Okay, so I want my results. I know that my name will go into the tickle dating database (They don't actually tell you that it is a dating database at this point). I have an extra (free) email that I am willing to sacrifice so I made up a name and some other contact details and filled in the fields.

The next screen tells me the I.Q. results (134, not that I am bragging) and then offers to sell me the full results from an "actual PhD" for $9.95 (Access to the dating site is 'free', test results $9.95)!

I just thought I would try and save you the trouble of going through this test, getting your contact information stolen and have you tempted to pay for a useless report in the bargain.

Talk about sophisticated scheme, eh?

SO... be wary! There are lots of offers out there. Some are very sophisticated and it may seem like you are getting great value for a small price. But you have no idea what they will deliver. Consider the cost AND the benefit. Your personal information is very valuable. Don't provide it on a whim. It doesn't cost much to make a web page LOOK like it is backed by a reputable company.

[Edit] There are others who have been burned by not being wary of enrollment schemes like Tickle's IQ test. Note: I hesitate to link to the complaints.com. It appears to be a low maintenance site designed to attract click-through advertisement. There does not seem to be ANY filtering of content posted by visitors. Consumer-Beware with anything you read on this site. It does add some anecdotal evidence, however, allowing the reader to assess other people's experiences.