When it comes to online surveys for cash or freebies, you need to be careful, as there are a lot of scams out there. Come in now to read how to spot them and avoid them like plagues.
In your quest to make money online, get some freebies, or even any form of benefit in generate, you can be a victim of an online survey scam. This will compromise your privacy, make you a victim of identity theft, and in some cases, even get you to lose money as an effect. That is why it is important you scrutinize every online survey you want to partake in. Only when it meets certain standards should you be ready to partake in it.
Scammers are getting ruthless by the day. And you can see them in their actions in almost all human activities, including online surveys. For you to stay safe, you will need to know all of the gimmicks being played by these fraudulent individuals in the online survey need. And that is why this article was written — to provide you with all of the information you need to identify online survey scams and avoid them.
What are Online Survey Scams?
Online survey scam is one of the popular scams on the Internet that might look harmless but actually does. The scam will get you to complete a survey form in exchange for cash, coin, or crypto of some kind, freebies, or even in other to get you into a lottery. All of these goodies are tempting, and that is the catch. Get you interested to fill out the survey and then deprive you of the reward you were promised. Instead, you become a victim of identity theft, and they could even scam you of your hard earned money.
The online survey scam working mechanism is simple if you look at it. You are promised a reward when you complete a survey. But instead of the reward, your details are stolen and sold or you are even scammed of your money in the process. While the term online survey scam refers to surveys completed online, this can also involve surveys completed on the phone. Survey scammers are getting smarter. They either use online platforms, call you on the phone, or use the two methods to make the scheme more lethal.
Types of Online Survey Scams
Before showing you how to spot and protect yourself against online survey scams, let's take a look at some of the survey scams out there. We are defining the types based on the intentions of the scammer and what they stand to benefit from the scams.
Identity & Personality Theft Survey Scam
For this type of scam, the aim of the survey scammer is to get personal identifiable details of his/her victim. While including personal detail questions in the survey, others go as far as asking personality questions. They might want to know your name, contact info, and even your security number.
Some will ask you about your favorite meal, the street you grew up in, and all of that. All of this information is sold online on the dark web to identity thieves to use and impersonate you. They could use this to claim to be you and even get loans and credit on your behalf.
Spam Survey Scam
Another type of survey scam you need to be wary of is the spam survey. These survey scams pose as legitimate surveys and even promise you rewards. However, all they want to do is understand you and your preference. Usually, these types of surveys will make sure you either give your email address or mobile number. Using either or both of these, they spam you with adverts that you are likely to respond to.
Money Theft Survey Scam
This type of scam is quite sophisticated and designed to outrightly get money from you. In this type of scam, you are made to complex some basic surveys and then told to opt-in for higher-paying surveys. But you’re required to pay an opt-in fee. If you pay, you will not get any higher-paying survey as promised, and you end up losing your money as you will make no money from the service.
Install Survey Scam
This survey scam method asks you to install their software in other to complete their surveys and earn rewards. Usually, these scams will have a high minimum payout amount. This will force you to keep their software installed on your phone.
Unfortunately, the software is almost always laced with malware that infects your device. Your device could be used as a proxy or even part of a botnet. In the end, you’ll not even get the reward, even after reaching the payment threshold. For many of these apps, even if you uninstall them, the malware remains on your system.
The Anatomy of Survey Scams Online
What does an online survey site look like? There are 4 components that are almost always in survey scams. Let's take a look at them.
Impersonating Popular Brands
Most online survey scams will impersonate a popular brand, let's say, Amazon. Some will even impersonate social media platforms and government organizations as in the case of Covid-19 survey scams. There are others that also target popular non-governmental agencies. However, this is pretty easy to spot.
The URL of the survey site is always different from the URL of the brand. Some might want to make it resemble the URL of the site they are trying to impersonate. Something like www.faceb00ok.com — instead of www.facebook.com. Also, even though they try to make it look like their target site, you will see that the site design was rushed — from the design to the content.
Huge Reward Promise
There is no online survey scam that does not make a promise that is too attractive to be real. And it is this reward that entices the victims to lay off their guards. I am sure you must have come across surveys that you can join to win the latest iPhone.
How is that even possible? Legit surveys will get you to complete lots of surveys to get just a dollar. But for these scams ones, you are made promises you can’t resist. And immediately you fall for it, you’ll discover you have been scammed.
The Need for Urgency
If you really think straight, you will not fall for certain scams — not only online survey scams. The need for urgency is there to keep you away from thinking straight. They will either tell you there are only a few rewards left and there are a good number of people trying to claim the reward or the reward decreases with time. Generally, the idea is to get you to complete the survey first, then you can think straight.
There is a Waiting Time
Before you start taking the survey, you are convinced to give it a try and get the reward for completing the survey. As stated above, there is even the need for urgency, and the faster you get it done, the more chances of getting the reward. But the moment you complete the survey, the tone change, and you are made to wait. And that is it; you are never going to hear from them again, or you are gotten to go through another survey of theirs.
How to Spot Online Scam Surveys
With the anatomy of a scam survey described above, you should be able to detect some of them. However, in this section, we will show you how to spot and detect scam surveys online, so you do not have to fall for their scams.
1. Getting Too Personal
Do not get me wrong, many legit surveys ask some questions that seem personal in a bid to get the demography of their respondent, and that is completely OK. However, these questions shouldn’t get too personal, and they should be devoid of personal and contact information that is unique to you as a person.
Surveys are done to get data for statistical analysis. When they get too personal such as requesting your email, phone number, or other unique identifiers, then you’re most likely getting involved in an online scam survey.
2. New Domain Name
No survey scam scheme last forever as the people scammed mention it online and a simple search google search such as “is *** scam or legit?” will reveal that. For this reason, operators of these scams frequently change domains.
To check the age of the domain, use the domain lookup tool by ICANN. If the domain name is new, then you should avoid such a domain until it becomes major and there is no stain in its name, as the new ones are almost always a scam.
3. Reward too Good to Be True
Immediately you see any reward that is too good to be true on a survey site; you are better off closing the page and never opening it again. This is because that survey is a scam, and only trying to use the reward to entice you. But you know what; you are never getting the reward — not even a fragment of it. They use the reward to get gullible people hooked to buy the idea of completing the survey. A legit survey will never promise you an iPhone, a Tesla, or even $50 per survey.
4. Inconsistency in Design and Website Copy
Another red flag you will notice in many scam survey sites is the inconsistency you will notice on their websites. Many of these scam websites do not have professional designers, copywriters, and testers to get things in the right direction. On some of them, you will notice spelling and grammatical errors.
On others, you will see that there is inconsistency in the processes they make as you move from one page to the other. When and if you notice any of these, just know that you are in a scam land.
5. When a Site Looks Like Another Scam Site
One red flag you should never ignore is if a site looks like another scam survey site you are aware of. You should run for your privacy as there is a 95 percent chance that the new one you just discovered is also a scam site. Most of the operators of these scam sites are not even coders; all they top is purchase scripts, make little to no adjustments, and publish.
It might also be that both sites are owned and managed by the same operator. But no matter how a site looks professionally designed and convincing, if it looks like a scam site, you know, that is a sure red flag you should avoid.
6. Survey Request via Email
Another way to spot survey scams is when you are invited to complete a survey via email from a sender of you are not aware of. It is common for legit companies to send emails to their customers asking them to help complete surveys.
However, if you get an email from an unknown sender telling you to fill out a survey, there is every chance in the world that the survey you are meant to fill out is just a trap. And you’ll either get hacked or your data sold to the highest bidder on the dark web.
7. Lengthy Pre-Qualification Procedure
Another red flag you should take note of is if a survey has a lengthy pre-qualification procedure. Some scam surveys have become smart in the way they operate. They introduce what they call a pre-qualify survey, which is obviously the real survey. At this point, they will collect all of the information they really want to collect from you.
Once they are done, you are told you are not qualified for the survey. Sadly, they have gotten what they want from you, and it is time to throw you out. But the data they have gotten or malware they got you to install remains.
How to Protect Yourself from Online Survey Scams
How do you protect yourself and others around you from falling into the hands of operators of scams and fake online surveys? In this section, we will highlight some of the tips you need to follow.
1. Cross-Check Website and Emails Before Responding to Surveys
As stated above, one of the anatomies of scam surveys is that they try to impersonate popular brands you might know in a bid to gain some form of trust. Before you start filling out any survey, you should make sure you cross-check the URL of the website and make sure it is the real website. If you get an unsolicited email asking you to fill out a survey, you should also check the email if it is from a service you registered yourself.
2. Avoid Surveys with Too Good to be True Rewards
Human nature strives when rewarded and that is the reason there is some form of reward attached to surveys. However, you need to know that no legit survey will offer you a huge amount of money to fill out surveys. When confronted with survey ads promising you huge rewards like a phone, a car, or even a huge discount for purchasing from an online store, you can be certain there is a scam actor behind it. If it is too good to be true, then it probably is.
3. Avoid Bad Neighbourhood Online
Surveys can be everywhere online. But there are some sites that are niches online that lure you to solve surveys more than others. Sites like download sites and porn-related sites are notorious for these. If you want to avoid being lured to complete surveys, then you should avoid visiting these sites. If you decide to visit, you will have to be careful and make up your mind not to give in to complete any survey, no matter how harmless it look, as you will most likely be scammed.
4. Check Online for Related Surveys
Perhaps, one of the effective ways to avoid completing scam surveys is to check online. Queries on search engines such as “is XYZ a scam,” “does XYZ pay,” and “is XYZ real” will help uncover details of the survey. If the survey has been around for a while, you will get details as to whether it is legit or a scam. If the survey is trying to impersonate a popular site, you should also check with the site. In essence, do not try to complete any form of the survey until you search online and can ascertain that it is not a scam.
5. Do Not Invite Your Network to Unproven Survey Sites
It is normal for users to try to invite others to survey sites and get referrals for doing so. Do not do that. Except you have tried your hands on a survey site and actually earned money in your bank account, you should avoid telling others about it. Invitation by victims is one of the things that keep the scam model floating. The network effect and reach caused by referral is what makes their victim base large, encouraging them to continue scamming people. Save yourself and those around you by not sharing unconfirmed survey sites.
FAQs About Online Survey Scams
Q. Can One Avoid Scam Survey Online?
If you are the type that goes around looking for a survey to complete for a reward, then it can be difficult for you to avoid scam surveys 100 percent. This is because while some of the scam surveys have pointers you can use to tell they are fake, some of them look completely legit, and you will only get to know you have been scammed when the reward is not forthcoming.
However, if you follow the guide provided above, there is every chance you can reduce the chances of falling for survey campaigns that will end up scamming you online.
Q. Can Someone Make Money Completing Survey Online?
Yes, there are legit surveys that pay you to complete them. In fact, there are sites online dedicated to paying users to complete surveys online. However, you need to know that you won’t make any life-changing money by completing surveys. You will have to complete a good number of surveys to earn a few dollars.
It is also important you know that legit surveys have a strict vetting process to weed out unqualified participants. In all, online survey is not a real job but a method to make a few bucks online.
Q. What to Do If You Fall for a Survey Scam?
For the most part, if you fall for an online survey scam, you can’t even report it. And except in a severe case where your bank or credit card detail has been stolen, you just have to take care of things from your end.
You should make use of anti-virus to remove any form of malware that has been injected into your device. People around you should be aware of such scams so they won’t fall for it and infect your device too.
There is no doubt there are a good number of legit surveys that leave up to their reward promises, and there is nothing wrong if you partake in them.
However, there are currently more scams out there than legit surveys online. This is the reason you should be paranoid and double-check every survey you see online before joining. With what you read above, you should know how to identify scam surveys online and how to protect yourself from falling victim.