McDonald's

McDonald's In Depth

Sections on this page
  1. About McDonald’s 
  2. Scams Impacting McDonald’s and Its Customers
  3. Myths About McDonald’s
  4. How to Beat McDonald’s Scams
  5. Protection for McDonald’s Customers

McDonald’s is one of the world's largest fast-food companies, but despite its size, the chain is not immune to being the subject of scams—from mail fraud and phishing to data breaches and more. So whether you’re playing McDonald's Monopoly or completing a simple customer survey for cash, you should always be vigilant with your online activities and personal data to stay safe from McDonald’s scams.

About McDonald’s 

McDonald’s originated as a barbeque restaurant in the 1940s, but the chain evolved into a leading quick-service restaurant with an expansive menu. From the Big Mac® and Chicken McNuggets® to McCafé® bakery and drinks, McDonald’s is a top choice for millions of customers around the globe.

According to the National Center for Technology Innovation, parents and young children are the biggest customers of McDonald's. The second and third biggest customers of McDonald’s are teenagers and business owners.

Quick Facts

  • Established: May 15, 1940
  • Trademarked: May 4, 1961
  • McDonald's net worth: ~$170 billion
  • Number of locations: 38,695 restaurants in 120 countries
  • Daily customers served: More than 70 million customers

Scams Impacting McDonald’s and Its Customers

Several scams impact McDonald’s and patrons of the restaurants. Here are some of the most common and most well-known scams.

McDonald’s CEO Scam

According to an article by Fox News, a person called a McDonald’s in Pennsylvania pretending to be the restaurant’s CEO. This person convinced one of the managers to take $4,000 from the restaurant and purchase gift cards from a nearby gas station convenience store.

The manager, however, did not share the gift cards’ PINs over the phone with this person and instead contacted authorities. It’s not common for scammers to pretend to be the CEO of a major corporation, such as McDonald’s, but they commonly ask their victims to purchase gift cards to pay off some debt.

McDonald's Paid Survey

 The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has alerted consumers to be wary of a McDonald’s customer satisfaction survey email scam. Coming from what appears to be the legit McDonald’s brand, this email encourages consumers to complete a simple customer survey to help improve the quality of the restaurant’s food and service. If the consumer completes the task, they’re promised some cash.

However, this is merely a scam to get personal and financial information from those willing to complete the survey. The scammer asks the email recipient to provide credit card details so they can transfer the bonus payment for completing the survey. Unfortunately, this number only enables the scammer to debit money from the account.

McDonald’s Monopoly Game and Sweepstakes

According to a contests and sweepstakes expert at The Balance Everyday, consumers started to question the legitimacy of McDonald’s Monopoly Game after a scam took place in the early 2000s. A corrupt employee who worked for McDonald’s sweepstakes administration company stole the top game pieces and sold or distributed the winning tickets to people he knew. This employee cheated rightful winners out of $13 million in prize money from McDonald's.

While the Monopoly game is legitimate, it can be abused by scammers. For instance, there’s a recurring annual scam that involves game piece trading. McDonald’s prohibits this to protect potential victims.

Myths About McDonald’s

McDonald’s hasn’t been without its fair share of controversy over the years, especially concerning what their foods actually contain.

Questionable Ingredients

There’s been quite some debate on whether the ingredients used in McDonald’s food items are legit, and some people have accused the fast-food giant of putting outlandish ingredients in the food products. Common myths about the ingredients in McDonald’s food:

  • McDonald’s chicken nuggets contain putty.
  • The burgers contain cow eyeballs and worm burger filler.
  • The fries contain beef.
  • The McRib is made from pink slime.
  • There are no apples in the McDonald’s apple pie.

Indestructibility of Items

 McDonald’s has also been in the limelight due to its burger and fries showing no sign of rot after six years, as shown in the 2004 documentary Super Size Me. This discovery made many consumers wonder whether McDonald’s used super preservatives to keep the meat fresh or even a mold-free meat strain.

To counter this claim of a McDonald's scam, it is believed that bacteria and mold may not grow without sufficient moisture, which makes decomposition unlikely.

How to Beat McDonald’s Scams

We’ve compiled a simple list of tips you can use to beat McDonald’s scams perpetrated by imposters and impersonators. These will help you avoid phishing emails, sweepstakes scams, fake prizes, and more.

  1. Always verify the address of the sender of suspicious emails.
  2. Check for spelling errors and unprofessional language in the content of your emails.
  3. Remain suspicious of any links or attachments in an email and refrain from clicking.
  4. Install antivirus and firewall software and keep it updated.
  5. Never pay a fee for taxes, shipping, and handling, or processing to get a prize.
  6. Don’t enter contests where you can pay to increase your odds of winning.
  7. Don’t enter contests that require financial information for you to claim a prize.

Protection for McDonald’s Customers

According to American Banker, McDonald’s partnered with leading fraud prevention company Sift to streamline mobile ordering and payments outside the U.S. and protect against new scams targeting restaurant-delivery services.

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