How to Avoid Scam Survey Websites

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This is a special guest blog post by David Bakke

David Bakke writes about smart shopping tips and small business opportunities on Money Crashers, a personal finance blog that helps readers improve their financial fitness and find useful tools including tax software and the best cash back credit cards.

When it comes to paid survey websites, let's face it - you're not going to break the bank. But that's not to say you can't generate a moderate amount of income. The key is to maximize your time: If you can filter through the scams and focus on websites that will pay out real cash, you can put some decent money in your wallet from the comfort of your own home.

Websites to Avoid

Here are few websites to avoid. Though these aren't necessarily scam sites, each one charges a fee. Plus, each seems to present an inflated idea of how much money you can make completing surveys.
  • Site #1: This site charges a $35 membership fee, but claims that your first survey is worth $25. The site says you can make up to $100 participating in focus groups. Though this is possible, it's certainly not the norm.
  • Site #2: Access costs $27. The site claims you can make up to $3,500 a month filling out surveys, which is highly unlikely.
  • Site #3: The membership fee is $4.99 per year. The site claims you can make up to $100 payouts for online and phone surveys, and up to $50 to view movie trailers.

Websites to Look For

Here are few websites we like.  They are all free to join and offer the best rewards and/or cash prizes.  Click below to sign up with them, then come back and review your experience for others!

Opinion Outpost

If you don’t qualify for a study, you usually get chances to participate in instant win games.

MySurvey is generally one of the more “fun” survey panels to join.


They compensate you nominally for surveys you do not qualify for.

However, you must be constantly alert and aware, as there are many more scam survey sites than there are legitimate ones. Here are some red flags to watch out for.

Survey Website Red Flags

  1. Payment Required - Any website that asks you to pay money for a subscription, account activation, a start-up kit, or anything else should be avoided. All truly legitimate survey websites are 100% free.
  2. Excessive Personal Info Required - While you'll need to enter some personal information in order to sign up, know where to draw the line. Never enter your social security number, and never enter your credit card information. Most legitimate survey sites will only ask for your name, address, email address, age, gender, and maybe a few other details. This information is needed to match you with appropriate surveys.
  3. Unsolicited Emails - Always initiate the sign-up process by visiting the survey website directly or through a referral link from a legitimate website (like or a referral link from a friend. Never click on anything sent to you through an unsolicited email. These usually come from phishers who will direct you to a fake website and ask for personal information.
  4. Free Trials Offered - Some websites will offer to supposedly pay you money by completing surveys and signing up for offers. These typically include free trial magazine subscriptions or other products. What these websites bank on, however, is that you sign up for a "free" trial and forget to cancel, so that your credit card gets billed.
  5. No Privacy Policy - Many of these websites have no privacy policy whatsoever, which is another red flag. Most likely, this means the website will sell or share your information. But even if you see a privacy policy link, be sure to click on it and read the fine print. I have visited several scam websites that had a privacy policy link, but nothing came up when I clicked on it.
  6. Seems Too Good to Be True - Any email or website that offers something like a $100 Walmart gift card for a single short survey is simply not legitimate. While there are a few higher-paying surveys out there, they are rare and usually for special surveys lasting several hours or more. If it looks too good to be true, then it probably is. Remember, the average pay out for completing a survey is about $2. Anything significantly beyond that is likely a scam.

Final Thoughts

If you're unsure about the validity of a website, you can check it out with the BBB or by seeing if it is affiliated with CASRO (Council of American Survey Research Organizations, the ethics organization for market research). This should tell you whether it is for real.

Whichever legitimate route you decide to go, be sure to answer all questions in full. These sites are very keen to automated survey submitters, and if you're identified as one, your account will be canceled.

Completing paid surveys is a great way to put some extra cash in your pocket, just know what you're getting into and understand which sites are the real deal.

Which survey websites have you had the most luck with? Are there any other sites you think should be avoided?

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Comments (16)

  • janney April 02, 2016 Reply
    I like to take yall survy
    • Max Anderson May 11, 2016 Reply
      Sign up on our homepage, and go to the "All Surveys" list of surveys and sign up for 3-6 of them today!
  • carmen March 13, 2016 Reply
    Hello there, i really am a hard worker and want to do work online which pays me, I'm tired of getting to these sights that want you to pay to become part of them, is there a sight which will not want any money from you first and do give you surveys on line to get paid for. please can anyone assist me.
  • Anne June 23, 2015 Reply
    I've found that the vast majority of survey sites are frauds. I've taken surveys that disqualified me in the middle (for NO reason), pretended to have errors that prevented them from paying me once I'd FINISHED them (I know it's fake because it happens so often and always at the end), and lying to me about whether or not I'd qualify (e.g. "Even if you don't have a cell phone, we're interested in your opinions," then "Sorry, you do not qualify because you don't have a cell phone"). I now use a web protection service to block bad survey sites, or sites that only want to interview rich Hispanic people with diabetes and important jobs who buy a lot of stuff and go to the movies every week. :P
    • Max Anderson May 11, 2016 Reply
      If you sign up for the top 10 surveys on our website, they are ALL free and they send you a lot of surveys. Some you may start to take and they tell you that you are not qualified but if you do enough of them, you will find that you will complete many and get paid! See our other blog posts for what to do: "Tips for making sure you get as many surveys sent to you as possible "
  • Dimov October 13, 2013 Reply
    Great article,

    Fortunately these days there can be found many more survey companies that are free and legit.Several years ago most of the sites that ranked on Google was paid and scams.Now people understand better what is scams and what is legit.As for 4) these are actually freebie sites.They are not surveys.Many people think it is the same, but it is not.And most of their points are fake.

    Btw, I'd also include My View.It is a great company.Probably the newest legitimate company I know.They are great.
    • Fredericka October 20, 2014 Reply
      Great article.
  • survey-guided development August 15, 2013 Reply
    Hey i'm for the first time here. I found this board and I find It really useful it helped me out much. I hope to give something back and help others such as you helped me.
  • top content marketing companies July 27, 2013 Reply
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  • Tera April 11, 2013 Reply
    Thank you! I appreciate the heads up on what to watch out for from survey websites...
  • James Morkal February 13, 2013 Reply
    An impressive post, I just gave this to a colleague who is doing a little analysis on this topic. And he is very happy and thanking me for finding it. But all thanks to you for writing in such simple words. Big thumb up for this blog post!
  • Eddie February 02, 2013 Reply
    Appreciate the information. I'm new to the whole idea of taking surveys getting paid. Thanks for the early warning signs :)
  • Steven Rogers January 24, 2013 Reply
    Thanks for the info. I get why companies give paid surveys, but it's kind of ridiculous. Actually, they're basically paying for RD (Research and Development). It's probably cheaper than many other ways. Well, I just proved myself wrong, kind of.
  • Jenna June 26, 2012 Reply
    A great read! Too many people are falling victims to paid survey sites because the temptation to earn easy money is too great. Everyone has to realize that even a part-time job needs time and effort to reap any rewards. A too good to be true program is very suspicious!
  • shreyansh June 19, 2012 Reply
    That was really helpful, I can get a clue on scam surveys.....
    • ルト メンズ 中古 November 15, 2014 Reply
      Hi there! This post could not be written any better!