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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