Written by: Cally Worden
Getting paid to sit online and answer survey questions sounds like easy money. But the dream of idly clicking away and watching the cash mount up may not be as simple as it sounds. There are risks and pitfalls that both survey-takers and the companies commissioning them need to be aware of. Before you go signing up to anything, take a minute to read on and make sure you’re not going to find yourself scammed, out of pocket or, worse still, in hot water.
Lies and Statistics
All surveys work on the premise that all respondents will be honest about their age, lifestyle, and preferences. This naturally limits the variety of surveys that you can legitimately participate in, while being 100% truthful. You should not, for example, answer a survey on your preference for various brands of nappy if you are not actively buying, or using these products on a regular basis.
Online surveys don’t pay too well, so there is a temptation to sign up for and respond to any surveys going, whether they are relevant to you or not. The ease with which you can set up any number of anonymous email identities has also led to many online survey respondents answering the same questionnaire multiple times, simply to boost their earnings. These actions clearly undermine the validity of the survey results.
It is not so easy for online survey companies to identify those individuals who are engaging in such underhand activities – but it is not impossible. Unless you know how to mask it, all email accounts that you use will be visible as originating from one single IP address. If you are identified in this way, you may find yourself barred from future dealings with the companies in question. And if you have signed up to Terms and Conditions that state your intention to provide only accurate and single-response data, then you could in theory be breaking the law and subject to prosecution.
For those who feel it is worth pursuing online surveys as a source of income, it’s important to be aware of the exposure issues experienced by some participants. In short – beware of the scam artists.
You may find adverts seeking survey participants that make claims of the ability to earn a lot of money each month. Some of these organisations claim to offer access to dedicated lists of online survey organisations, and will charge you to access their proprietary information. In fact, most of the data they provide can be found for free if you search the internet yourself.
No one should approach online survey’s as a way to make a full-time living. You would need to work virtually all day, every day to generate even a modest return on your time. If you have some spare time on your hands, then online survey sites are a good way to make some pocket money – if you keep your expectations at this level you won’t be disappointed. There are a few other tips to follow that will help you to stay safe when dabbling in the online survey world:
- Avoid signing-up to any site that requires a fee to access surveys
- As a rule of thumb, any site that works hard at claiming not to be a scam it more likely to be one
- Read all disclaimers, terms and conditions and privacy agreements carefully
- Search online for any information that may have been shared by other users about certain unscrupulous sites – scam.com and ripoffreport.com are useful resources
- If an offer sounds too good to be true then it probably is – trust your instincts