7 Ways to Spot a Survey Scam

7 Ways to Spot a Survey Scam

Everyday I get dozens of offers in my inbox asking me to take a survey for cash. It's fun taking surveys for cash - the problem is that it is getting harder and harder to tell which offers are for real and which offers are trying to scam me.

To help us avoid getting burned, I've put together a list of my top 7 ways to spot a survey scam...

1. They ask for money

This one may seem obvious, but these sites wouldn't keep popping up if people weren't falling for it. There are hundreds of these scams on the internet and usually start by promising you access to "top-paying surveys" just as soon as you hand over $24.99. Once you pay the fee, all you'll get is a small e-book filled with a few links that you could easily have found for free doing a search on Google.

2. They post an ad on Craigslist

It seems innocent enough. The company says they are looking for participants in their survey and all you need to do is email them some contact information. Stop! These types of offers are usually email farms where the poster is simply collecting all of the email addresses that respond so that they can later spam the email accounts with offers for Viagra, etc.

3. They offer too much money

If a survey is promising $75 for 15 minutes of work, you should click the back button as FAST as possible. My general rule of thumb with any survey or internet offer is if it sounds too good to be true, than it is probably a scam.

4. They want to pre-qualify you.... for an hour

There types of surveys are very sneaky. It's not uncommon for surveys to ask you a few pre-qualifying questions before beginning the actual survey. They do this because companies want to make sure they are reaching survey takers that meet their target demographic. The problem is when the pre-qualifying portion seems to go on forever by asking a hundred questions and by the time you get to the end, the survey says, "Sorry, it doesn't look like you qualify." The trick is that you really just took the survey and they didn't pay you for it, because it was all in the name of "pre-qualification."

5. They try too hard

Everybody is looking to make an extra buck these days so it's not very hard to find people to take surveys for extra money. That's why if it seems like a survey operator is pushing too hard for you to take the survey, it is likely a scam. One of the red flags to look out for is if their web page is filled with testimonials from former survey takers. Real survey companies don't have to beg that hard.

6. They require an unachievable minimum before sending a check

This one annoys me the most. You join a survey group and they promise you a dollar or two for each survey you take. There's nothing wrong with that, except later you find out that you must accumulate some insane amount of earnings before they will send you a check. This is popular scam because the survey company knows that very few people will stick with it long enough to see an actual check.

7. They lack a Privacy Policy

Always check to make sure a survey company has a privacy policy before signing up. Otherwise your email address and personal information could be at risk. These sites often take your information and resell it to other companies ensuring that you'll see a lot more spam than you will cash.

Don't get discouraged Penny Hoarders. If you like taking surveys for cash, there are several companies that are legitimate. I've previously written about my success with Inbox Dollars (Make $30 at Inbox Dollars), but another company I like is Consumer Opinion Institute. They send me surveys in the mail and there is always a $5 dollar bill tucked inside as a thank you. It's always such a nice surprise!

I'd love for folks to share in the comments if you have a favorite survey company or website that has paid you. No scams please - we know better. :)

Good Luck Penny Hoarders!