7 Ways to Spot a Survey Scam

Every day I get dozens of offers in my inbox asking me to take a survey for cash. It’s a fun way to make a little extra money, but the problem is it’s getting harder and harder to tell which offers are for real and which offers are trying to scam me.

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

1. They Ask for Money

This one may seem obvious, but scammy survey sites wouldn’t keep popping up if people weren’t falling for them.

There are hundreds of these scams on the internet and they usually promise you access to “top-paying surveys” — as soon as you hand over some cash. Once you pay the fee, all you get is a small e-book filled with a few links that you could easily have found for free by searching Google.

2. They Post an Ad on Craigslist

It seems innocent enough. A company says they’re looking for survey participants and that all you need to do is email them your contact information.

Stop! These types of offers are usually email farms that collect the email addresses of everyone who responds so they can spam the accounts later 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 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

These types of surveys are very sneaky. It’s not uncommon for surveys to begin with a few pre-qualifying questions to make sure you meet the company’s target demographic.

The problem is when the pre-qualifying portion seems to go on forever and asks a hundred questions. When you finally reach 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 paid surveys.

If it seems like a survey operator is pushing too hard for you to take the survey, it is probably a scam.

One red flag to watch for is a web page filled with testimonials from former survey takers. Real survey companies don’t have to put up such a front to attract participants.

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, unless you find out later you must accumulate a ridiculous amount of earnings before they’ll send you a check.

This type of scam is popular because the survey company knows 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. That means 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 plenty of legitimate companies out there. Here are a few of my favorites.