How to Tell If a Survey Site is Fake: 11 Warning Signs
Updated on: December 5, 2019 by anvitalis
Finding legit paid surveys may not seem like a difficult task, but with new survey sites popping up all the time, it can be!
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Some of those new sites can mimic the real sites you’re used to using.
They might look completely real and feel real, only for you to sign up and discover that the site duped you into getting your information and selling it to other countries.
It happens, unfortunately, far too often.
The online survey world has become filled with scams since gaining popularity over the years because scammers see survey takers as easy targets.
They know they want to earn money quickly and easily, and it’s not too challenging to make a site look like the real thing.
So, how can you tell the real ones from the spoofs?
Read on to learn our best tips for weeding out the scams and focusing only on legitimate paying survey sites.
Are Online Survey Sites Scams?
No, not all of them.
In fact, there are several sites out there on the web that have been around for years and exist today because they value their survey participants and pay them fairly for their time.
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Unfortunately, there are many others that give survey sites a bad name and cause people to label them all as scams.
It’s kind of like direct sales companies (also known as multi-level marketing, or MLM, companies).
A lot of people think these companies are scams because a few of them have been caught using shady practices over the years.
It’s important to remember that real, legitimate sites and companies exist, no matter what industry they’re in, and we can’t let a few bad apples spoil the whole bunch.
When it comes to online surveys, finding the real ones comes down to understanding what legitimate survey sites offer.
The more you use real ones that pay, the easier this will be for you to do.
But if you’re new to taking surveys online, then it might not come so easily.
That’s why I’ve put together a list of warning signs that fake survey sites use to trick you into thinking they’re real.
Common Warning Signs of Pseudo Survey Websites
A pseudo survey site is another name for a fake or scam site that tries to mimic a real site that pays you to take studies online.
These sites can be challenging to spot sometimes, but if you know the common warning sites of a scam, it’ll become easier over time for you to tell the difference.
No privacy policies, terms, or other helpful documents.
One of the first things I personally look for on a survey site is information that helps me decide whether it’s a site I want to use.
Legitimate survey sites will outline, in detail, what your name, address, and other information is used for, such as only for accessing the site or shared when necessary with its clients.
Scams don’t usually provide one of these because they’re usually the ones that’ll use your information in spammy ways, like selling your info to other sites who want to sell stuff to you.
Terms of Service outline everything you can expect from the company and what the company expects from you.
It’s helpful for finding out more information about payment terms, things that can get you banned from the site, etc.
Scam sites won’t have one of these, either, because they don’t really care what you do as long as they get your information.
A FAQ or Help section gives you more information about the operations of the site so you’ll know exactly what to expect when you sign up.
Most scam sites won’t bother with setting this up either.
Those that do tend to only have a few general questions answered without a lot of detail in their responses.
There’s no way to find out who runs the site.
You should always be able to tell what company is behind the site you’re on.
Sometimes, you’ll need to do a little digging, but you shouldn’t have to go through more than a few pages to find what you need.
Most legit sites will have the company name – usually, a market research company – listed in the footer, or bottom section, of a website.
Other times, you might find out the company name on a contact page or About Us page.
Either way, you have the right to know what company is behind the site.
If nothing is listed, then there’s a good chance that it’s just a group of scammers who set up the page without a legitimate company backing it.
The site has several “sign-up” or “registration” pages.
Scam sites often make you believe you’re registering to become a panelist on their site.
Instead, you’ll end up “registering” by giving your information and having to sift through dozens of following pages that invite you to sign up for more stuff or click for more information before you can finish your sign-up.
These are scams!
What they’re doing is trying to get you to give them your information and sign up for offers from other companies that they partner with.
In other words, you’ll just keep giving all these places your name, address, email address, and other information without ever signing up for a legitimate survey taking site.
You usually should be able to fill out a one-page registration form that may bring you to another page to ask a few more questions to complete your profile.
Legit sites won’t make you do more than that.
You need to enter credit card or bank information to sign up.
Fake sites are notorious for asking for banking or credit card information from you when you register.
This is NEVER okay.
You will not have to pay to register for a legit site that offers paid studies.
YOU get paid to complete surveys, but you don’t need to pay to complete them.
The most you should ever have to give is your PayPal email address if the site pays via PayPal.
However, you won’t need to give your PayPal password for the site to connect to your account – this is another sign of a scam.
Leave the bank account and credit card details far away from any site that asks for them and never give out your personal information to them either.
The site promises ridiculous things.
You know those TV commercials that promise you can look 20 years younger with a facial lotion or drop 50 pounds in one week by using a daily body wrap?
Scam survey sites use similar tactics to try to get people like you to sign up for them.
They think that by promising tempting stuff that you just can’t pass up, you’ll be more inclined to register and give them all the information you want.
Be careful about signing up for anything that sounds too good to be true because it probably will be!
Big claims, like having the chance to earn cars and fancy vacations, aren’t realistic when it comes to a survey site.
Instead, you’ll usually get some cash or points for surveys you complete.
You may have a chance to win stuff like a grand cash prize by taking surveys, but these should never be promised or made to appear like they’re easy to win.
The pages are messy and/or have a lot of mistakes.
This one can be a little tricky because I’ll admit that there are some legitimate survey and rewards sites that don’t look the greatest.
These are usually ones that have been on the web for several years and haven’t updated their websites since starting.
Therefore, it isn’t necessarily a make or break situation to have a somewhat cluttered or outdated site.
However, if you’re noticing a lot of weird advertisements and bad grammar and spelling mistakes, then there’s a good chance the site is a scam.
Scammers just won’t spend the money to have an editor look over their site before they put it up – that cuts into their scam money!
Most reviews are negative, or the site has a lack of reviews.
I’m a stickler for checking out website reviews before I sign up because reviews showcase a lot of the good points and the weaknesses of a legit site based on the opinions of actual members.
I urge you to do the same.
Reviews can tell you a lot about a site, like if it actually pays and about how much you can expect to make from each survey.
They’ll also let you know if a site sporadically bans people, doesn’t pay, or has other major red flags that you’d want to know about before you join.
Another common sign of a scam is if a site has no reviews.
Not being able to find any information about the site from a Google search can sometimes indicate that it’s another short-lived scam that popped up.
You can also check out the Better Business Bureau (BBB) to see if the site is listed there and what members have to say about it.
The site is run by a lead generation company.
Real survey sites are run by market research companies that use their survey panels as a way to get people to share their opinions to help clients.
A scam site, however, is usually put in place by no company at all, but rather, an individual or small group (refer back to my second point about not being able to find out who runs the site), or by an advertising or lead generation company.
Lead generation companies are focused on marketing.
They grab leads to sell to their clients who want to use those leads to make more sales.
When a lead generation company runs a survey site, they’re not intending to pay you.
What they intend to do is grab your information and sell it to their clients.
Always check out the company that’s listed, if there is one at all, on the page.
Do a little digging to see what kind of company it is, and if it’s simply an advertising or lead generation agency, then you should feel confident skipping the sign up.
It offers unusual rewards.
Is a site plastering weird rewards in your face, like a trip to the Bahamas or $1,000 cash for completing a survey?
Again, this type of stuff is way too good to be true.
Most survey sites offer a few cents or dollars for each survey completed, with some longer focus groups offering $25 or more.
But if a site claims it’ll pay $50 for a regular survey, it’s a good sign to turn away and not waste your time.
The site isn’t secure.
Look for trust elements of new sites that you visit.
First, check the URL. Does it show http:// or https:// before the URL?
You want the second one, which indicates that the site is secure by encrypting the information you enter in registration forms and surveys.
You can also look for seals on a website, like the TRUSTe seal, and check with the issuer to make sure that the site actually is registered with them and isn’t just stealing the seal.
The site doesn’t offer contact information.
This is super important.
Any legitimate company wouldn’t think about hiding its contact information.
It should be easily accessible for you to find online to either call, email, or connect with the company on social media.
That way, if you need to ask for more information to help you feel safe about registering, you can.
And if you have any issues that arise after you start using the site, you’re only an email or phone call away from someone.
Scammers won’t give you any way to contact them and make a complaint.
Conclusion: Avoiding Fake Surveys Online
Although there are plenty of scammers out there, there are also plenty of legitimate sites that will reward you for being an active participant in their studies.
On this site, we’ll help you figure out what’s real and fake with our in-depth reviews of survey and reward sites.
But, if there are sites we haven’t yet covered, at least you now know what you can look for to help you avoid the scams.
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