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How Online Surveys Work


Dangers of Paid Online Surveys
Online surveys present dangers from potential scam artists.
Online surveys present dangers from potential scam artists.
© Photographer: Dimitry Romanchuck | Agency: Dreamstime

There are several dangers associated with paid online surveys, both for the companies that administer them and the people who take them.

For companies, one of the major dangers of paid online surveys is that you are giving participants an incentive to lie and cheat in order to take more surveys [source: Selling to Kids]. People might lie on their demographic profile to qualify for more surveys. They might sign up with the same company under multiple e-mail addresses to maintain several different profiles. They might rush through multiple-choice surveys randomly checking answers in order to complete the survey in the least amount of time possible.

By lying and cheating on online surveys, participants will make more money, but the company will end up with useless market research.

For participants, it's important to realize that paid online surveys have become a haven for Internet scam artists. Participants in online surveys should be aware that there are many unscrupulous middlemen out there who purport to sell proprietary lists of online survey companies that will help you "Earn $3000 a month!" while "Working from home!" Many of these middlemen charge a registration fee for accessing their lists, which are in fact freely available through simple a Google search.

Another danger of signing up with a paid online survey Web site is that the site may turn around and sell your contact information to spammers. Even if you trust an online survey site's privacy policy, it's always smart to register with a separate e-mail account from free Webmail sites like Yahoo! or Hotmail.

Here are some tips for avoiding paid survey scams and middlemen:

  • Don't sign up with any Web site that requires a fee for accessing paid online surveys.
  • Look for privacy statements and disclaimers; read them carefully.
  • The harder a Web site defends itself as "not a scam," the more likely it's a scam.
  • Search for posts about the company on sites like Scam.com and RipOffReport.com.
  • Trust your gut; if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

[source: About.com]

The biggest danger of paid online survey sites is simply spending a lot of time on an activity that pays very little in return. It's smart to think of paid online surveys as a hobby that could earn you a little extra pocket money, but don't expect it to replace your day job.

For more information about online surveys and related topics, check out the links on the next page.