How to Find and Take Safe Online Surveys for Money
Updated on: December 9, 2019 by anvitalis
Taking online surveys can be an excellent way to get a little extra cash in your wallet each month – but only if they’re legit, of course.
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Unfortunately, the world of online surveys is a tricky one.
There are plenty of scam sites out there that say they’ll pay you for your time only for you to later find out they never intended to pay you for those surveys you spent so much time on.
Most people who have taken surveys online have probably fallen into a similar trap or two.
That’s why you’ll find so many people asking in online forums, “Is Survey Junkie a Scam?” or “Can I Trust Ipsos i-Say?”
People want to know what experiences others have had (namely, if they’ve gotten paid!) before they potentially waste their time on a non-paying panel.
Beyond the issue with payment, though, are some other problems with scam sites, like using your information to spam you with unwanted emails or even gaining access to your bank account or stealing your identity.
Yes, these things can happen with scams, which is why it’s incredibly important to keep yourself safe with any site you visit online.
Survey takers especially fall prey to scammers, but we have some information and tips that can help you protect yourself.
Are Survey Websites Safe?
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But any website has the potential to be unsafe, including survey sites.
In other words, you should always treat a site you visit as unsafe until you have proof that it’s safe.
Survey sites are no different.
We’ve seen our fair share of scam sites and have heard horror stories about people not getting paid for the surveys they take or having their personal information stolen to use for other purposes.
Either way, these aren’t sites you should want to be dealing with.
The thing about survey panels is that there are so many of them, so it’s easy to hide scams within the many legit sites that are out there.
People rely on these sites to make a little extra income and scammers know this.
That’s why they see survey takers as easy targets.
They know survey takers want to make some money, so they offer up some seemingly easy ways to do it.
It’s also easy for survey sites to soak up a lot of information about you to either sell or use for other purposes, like identity theft – which, of course, makes them even more money.
Legit sites, of course, won’t do this, but the scam sites are basically set up for the purpose of getting your information, whether it be your personal details or your financial info.
How can you tell the real from the fake?
Survey Scams vs Legit Survey Jobs
There are few tell-tale ways to sift the real from the scams with these sites.
Downloadable software needed.
One trick we’ve seen from scam survey sites is requiring you to download some kind of software to be able to start taking surveys or even sign up for the site.
No – never do this.
The “software” you’ll need to download will usually be some type of malware, spyware, or virus that’s designed to steal information from your computer (like your personal details or bank information) or send a virus to your computer.
Either way, it’s not a good situation.
Legit survey sites won’t need you to download anything to get started besides maybe the Adobe Flash player, depending on what type of website setup it has (Flash is perfectly fine, by the way – just make sure the download link points you to the actual Flash player site!).
You may be given the opportunity to download the site’s app on your mobile device, which is fine.
But no program needs to go on your computer to take a survey.
Scam sites promise a lot of stuff.
You’ll probably see fake sites listing all kinds of big claims on them, like how you can potentially make $1,000 a month or more taking surveys.
That’s not going to happen from one site (and it’s nearly impossible even when you’re signed up for several sites).
Big claims are almost always a sign of a scam.
You’re not going to get rick quickly from surveys or make $100 from one 5-minute survey.
That’s just not the way these sites are intended to work.
So, if on the homepage of a site you come across has a bunch of unrealistic messaging, it’s best to just move onto something else and not waste any more of your time.
Scams may ask for your personal information.
Here’s the big one that trips people up a lot.
Your personal information. You’re always told to protect it when you’re online.
However, almost any site you come across asks for your name, email address, and sometimes your phone number and regular address to sign up.
Survey sites do ask a lot of information in general because they typically need to know about you, where you live, and what you do every day, so they’ll know what surveys to match you with.
Each survey needs a specific demographic to complete it, and your details will help the panel decide if you’re the right fit.
But there’s a fine line between giving away necessary information and giving away too much information.
No survey site should ever ask you for too much information, like your social security number, family members’ names, driver’s license number, or bank account information.
This is all details about you that scammers can use to steal your identity, which can cause some big setbacks for you later on.
You should also be careful to never give a survey site access to your computer through a “remote system” or anything similar they call it.
Doing so can give them access to all sorts of information about you that you don’t want them to have.
Stick to sites that only ask for the basics they’d need to know to get you registered and matched with surveys.
Typically, this will be your:
- Mailing address (for location purposes)
- Email address
- Job information
- Interests and dislikes
- Family, without getting personal (if you have kids, if you take care of a parent, etc.)
- Shopping habits (what type of stores you tend to shop at and what you buy)
Aside from that, most information you shouldn’t need to provide.
These policies exist to make sure you understand everything the site is providing you and how it uses your information.
You should browse both of these before registering to learn more about the survey panel’s usage of your information, such as what cookies it stores about you and whether it gives your information to anyone else.
What if the site doesn’t have one or both of these policies listed?
Then it’s probably not a site you want to be working with.
You should know exactly where your information goes online and why, so there’s no point wasting time on a site that doesn’t care about protecting it.
Even their emails are scammy.
Most emails from survey sites look a little messy and even scammy.
But you’ll be able to note a few differences with scam site emails.
Legitimate survey panels send out emails to let you know when a new survey matches your demographics.
They’ll provide some information about the survey, like how much it pays, how long it should take you to finish, and what subject it’s about.
You can then click the link to take the survey and it should bring you directly to the survey on its website.
Scam sites may send emails that look similar to those but will also be cluttered with advertisements and offers to get you to click on.
The survey link itself may even direct you to an advertiser’s website instead of bringing you to a survey.
Any site that’s deceptive with its emails will likely keep duping you, so it’s best to avoid them.
Tips for Keeping Your Information Safe
How can you keep yourself safe on survey sites? Here are a few helpful tips:
- Always, always check some reviews on a site before you join. You can find several reviews for most sites with a quick Google search or by looking on Reddit, where real members share their thoughts.
- Keep a separate email address for survey sites. This not only keeps your regular inbox free from survey clutter, but it can also save your primary email from getting hit with spam should a scam site end up selling your email address to another company.
- Browse the Insights Association member directory to see if the site you’re using is listed (you may have to research the site’s parent company). This is a US-based association that ensures that each member upholds safe and fair practices when conducting market research.
- Check the Better Business Bureau (again, you may have to search the parent company name instead of the site name). The reviews here are usually very telling about a company’s willingness to pay and usage of your information.
- Never overshare. If you feel uncomfortable giving out a piece of information, then your gut is trying to tell you something. Your social security number and bank credentials are never something a survey site needs.
- Don’t respond to an email that appears to be from a survey site asking you to hand over information. If in doubt, you can contact the customer support team via the website to ask about the email.
- Avoid signing up for a site that requires you to sign up for other stuff as you register. These are typically scams used to sell your information to other companies and you’ll likely get bombarded with spam.
- Look for trustworthy elements. You might see WebTrust, TRUSTe, or other seals that prove a site’s dedicated to gaining their customers’ trust. Just make sure to actually visit the sites who provide the seals to make sure the company is actually registered and not just swiping a logo.
- Keep your account information safe and for your eyes only. Don’t share your username and password with others who might get into your account and take your information – or even steal the cash you’ve gotten.
Safe Online Surveys for Money: Final Thoughts
If you’re ever in doubt about a survey site’s legitimacy and want some answers, I urge you to head to our site, OnlineSurveysPaid.com, where we review several sites from around the web – and may have some information about the one with which you’re concerned.
But, remember to also trust your gut.
If something doesn’t feel right about a site to you, then it probably isn’t.
Do your research about each site you visit, both on the site and off.
A few minutes of time spent researching could save you loads of headaches in the future.
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