Scam Prevention: Avoid Being Tricked when Registering for Paid Online Surveys

Protect your privacy and your pocket

Doing online surveys is a great way to share your opinions and be compensated for that. While this way of making money online cannot substitute a regular salary from a day job, it is an easy and flexible way to earn a bit on the side.

Nowadays, almost everyone has a computer and internet access at home and to many people doing paid online surveys is the perfect way to compensate for the negative effects of the economic downturn.

The growing interest in signing up for online surveys has, however, attracted scammers who use various tactics to trick people into handing over money or personal information, believing they will get paid for participation. So, if you are looking to make money from paid online surveys, here are some tip-offs to know when to steer away.

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Don't be fooled (or worse) when taking paid online surveys 

TELL-TALE SIGN #1: A PAYMENT IS REQUIRED

This is the first and most obvious tell-tale sign. If a online survey site asks you to pay a registration fee or to get access to a list of survey companies, to buy a start-up kit or to activate your account, make sure to steer clear of it. Genuine survey websites online never ask for money and lists of legitimate survey companies can be found online completely for free. Most scammers promise you will be able to earn back the money you have invested within a few days. Some of them continue asking for more money, promising higher payouts.

TIP: Never pay for registration on a survey site.

TELL-TALE SIGN #2: THE REWARDS ARE TO GOOD TO BE TRUE

One of the most common tricks to get people fall for scams is a promise of quick money for little effort and in short time. Some online survey websites will claim you only need to spend a few minutes to earn big sums of money. When taking paid online surveys in the UK, it is reasonable to expect payments ranging from as little as 4p to £10 per survey (the most lucrative surveys are rare and usually take long time to fill out). Note also that market research companies often only offer gift cards, discount vouchers and sweepstakes for answering their online surveys. Websites promising sums that sound too good to be true are most likely a scam.

TIP: Have realistic expectations about your earnings when doing paid online surveys.

TELL-TALE SIGN #3: SENSITIVE INFORMATION ARE REQUIRED

Some scammers take advantage of the naivety of inexperienced users and ask for bank account information, claiming they would then transfer the payouts from completed online surveys there. Never ever give away your bank account details, credit card information or your social security number to an online survey site. A legitimate website will only ask for basic demographic details such as your name, address, email, gender and age. 

TIP: Never share your bank account details with an online survey site.

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TELL-TALE SIGN #4: A PRIVACY POLICY AND TERMS OF USE ARE MISSING

Another danger of signing up with a fraudulent online survey site is that it may sell your contact information to other spammers. Look for privacy policy statements (outline how your privacy is protected) and terms of use (explain how and when you will be rewarded). And read them carefully! If a website lacks a privacy policy and a disclaimer it is almost certainly a scam. Usually this means that whatever information you submit will be sold or shared and you’ll end up being bombarded with spam. Legitimate businesses willingly will provide these legal documents to avoid being sued. Even if you trust a company is legit, it is wise to register with a ‘surveys only’ email account.

TIP: Never sign up for a site lacking privacy policy and terms of use statements. To be extra safe, register with a separate email account. 

TELL-TALE SIGN #5: TRUE IDENTITY OF THE COMPANY/SITE IS UNCLEAR

Does the online survey provider's name look similar but not exactly the same as a well known, legitimate company? Does the site have an About Us page, a FAQ page or a Contact Us page with information about the company’s history, business activities and a postal address? No? Then you might want to steer away from it. Genuine market research companies are eager to disclose such information to prove their credibility and to establish trust. To be extra sure that you are not falling for a scam it is always a good idea to conduct some research about the company. You might want to check the website’s domain name. If the website is registered anonymously it could be a sign it is illegitimate.  

TIP: If you think something is off, trust your intuition and don’t feel pressured to make a commitment.

If it turns out you have fallen victim to scam, report it immediately to the authorities and post your story online to warn others. The UK’s national reporting centre for fraud and internet crime is called Action Fraud, where you should report any experience with online scam and other types of cyber crime.