If you’re looking to participate in online surveys, it may seem that you are faced with the daunting task of figuring out which online survey panels are legitimate and which are survey scams.
Sometimes the decision is easy – a website where a bikini-clad model holding a laptop with “win me!” flashing on the screen is clearly not run by a legitimate provider. In these types of situations, a shady marketing company is usually behind the website and is looking to collect personal information that will be sold to third parties.
Example Survey Scam
Perhaps you’ve seen claims of earning thousands of dollars per week? Check out this ridiculous proposition, clearly posted by a scammer:
The proposition by this individual is ludicrous on its own, nevermind the link accompanying it; this is quite obviously not something anyone should click on.
Sometimes, however, distinguishing between a scam and a legitimate paid survey site, is not so obvious. Here’s what to look for when you’re unsure of whether or not a survey panel is actually run by a legitimate company.
Bare Bones, 1-Page Signup Forms
A website that simply asks for your first and last name and e-mail address could be a scam site and not an actual market research panel. If the initial signup page looks over simplified, be wary – most online survey companies collect additional information so they can better target survey takers for available surveys.
Be cautious with any ‘bare bones’ websites you encounter, and keep these next red flags in mind.
No Company Information
Similar to a 1-page registration website, many survey scam websites do not provide any information at all regarding their business. Marketing research companies willingly disclose information regarding their company headquarters, company history, survey panel information, etc. not only in order to demonstrate that they are credible, but also to attract clients who are looking to conduct studies.
A website lacking a basic ‘About Us’ page may potentially be an online survey scam website. And one missing a contact page is definitely one to run away from!
These survey sites have excellent reputations on SurveyPolice and are certainly not scams!
- Tellwut – Earn e-gift cards for taking surveys, participating in polls and more. Read 400+ reviews.
- YouGov – Earn cash and rewards for participating in surveys with this highly regarded research firm. Read 200+ reviews.
- PaidViewpoint – Earn cash paid by PayPal for participating in surveys. Read reviews.
Some online survey websites will make claims and suggestions about making exorbitant sums of money. For example, a claim stating that earning $150 a day is typical when taking their online surveys, is most likely fraudulent.
Most verifiable market research companies encourage survey takers to take online surveys because their opinions are valuable and they can influence the products and services of tomorrow. Reasonable compensation for surveys is typically offered to respondents, but taking surveys is not a huge money-making endeavor. Websites promising otherwise should be thoroughly investigated.
If you’re still feeling adventurous, before completing the registration form on these types of websites, set up an alternate e-mail address and provide this address as your contact e-mail. This way, if your judgement is incorrect, at least the spam you end up receiving will go to a less important e-mail account.
Common Survey Scams
There are a number of survey scams that people have fallen victim to over the years.
The first is a fake check scam which involves being sent a cashier’s check for a large sum of money. You may receive a check like this in your mailbox, out of the blue. It will come with a letter that will instruct you to complete what’s usually a ‘mystery shopping assignment’ where you are instructed to write a report on what you’ve observed at the store, and to purchase a set amount of gift cards there (or you’ll be asked to wire money to an account). The check is supposed to cover the cost of these gift cards or money transfer and you’ll be left with the remaining amount of the check. The only problem? The check will eventually bounce and you’ll be left holding the bag, with money now forever lost to a mystery wire account, or gift cards whose pins you’ve shared with the scammers.
Similarly, the legitimate survey site Pinecone Research (which is an invitation-only survey panel) has been targeted over the years where scammers have used their logos on unsolicited emails, in order to get people to complete survey assignments in exchange for money that first needs to be paid before being received! You can find out more about this Pinecone Research scam here.
In both cases, you are dealing with fraud and potentially instances of phishing. Be careful and never respond to any sort of solicitation where you’re asked to wire money!
Online surveys are actually a great way to voice your opinions and be compensated for doing so. They are fun, addictive, and really do make an impact on the products and services companies decide to develop, modify and discontinue. SurveyPolice is at your service to help you differentiate between online survey scam websites and true marketing research companies, wanting and needing your opinion for legitimate purposes.
How to Find Legitimate Online Surveys
Not all survey sites are scams, which is precisely why SurveyPolice exists – to point you to the ones that you can trust. Simply click the button below to be connected with online survey panels who are looking for new members in your area.