If you’re looking for a flexible way to make money online, paid online surveys could be a great option. But how do you know which paid surveys are legit and which ones are scams?
In this article, we’ll share how to spot scam survey sites so you know the red flags to look for, and we’ll also show you what you should be looking for to ensure a paid survey site is legitimate.
How to Spot Scam Survey Sites
If you are wondering if a survey site is legit, here are 10 ways to spot a scam:
1. Sign-Up Fees
It should be free to join a paid survey site. These survey sites are the ones paying you—for your opinions—not the reverse. If you find online survey sites charging you money to register, run away fast. You should never have to pay money in order to make money.
In fact, many legit survey websites want to pay you money to sign up in the form of a signup bonus.
2. Promises of Huge Sums of Cash
You cannot get rich taking surveys, or earn enough money to make a regular, full-time wage. If a survey website is promising you huge sums of cash — hundreds of dollars per survey, or the potential to make thousands of dollars each month — this is a fake site.
Market research companies just don’t even pay survey websites that much money per every survey complete, so there’s no way a survey site could pay you that kind of sum.
Here’s how it works: a market research company will pay a survey company like Survey Junkie $1 to $10 every time one of their members completes a survey. Then Survey Junkie shares a cut with the member who took it. Since Survey Junkie wasn’t paid hundreds of dollars upfront for the survey, there’s no way they could pay it to you.
Most surveys on legitimate survey websites pay 25 cents to $8.
In some limited instances, you can find longer surveys (i.e, 2 hours or more) surveys that pay $20 or more. But those even those $20 surveys are far and few between.
Only illegitimate or fake survey sites will make promises that you can regularly earn $20 or more on surveys.
3. Banking Information Requested
Your bank account information should never be requested when you sign up for a legit survey site — and the same goes for your social security number. This is one of the most common red flags.
The survey site may claim that they need your banking information so they can transfer funds to your account when you cash out, but you should not need to ever provide your banking info to redeem any earnings.
Well-known, legitimate survey sites like MyPoints or Branded Surveys will pay members via gift card, prepaid credit card or PayPal. In some instances, a paper check can be requested by the member but it is sent out in the mail.
Bottom line: do not give your banking information to a paid survey site. Do not give it when you sign up and do not give it when you cash out.
It’s possible that there is a legitimate survey site somewhere that requests banking information, but I have yet to find one.
4. No Terms and Conditions
Legitimate, paid survey sites will have their app or website’s terms and conditions clearly laid out. Typically, you will need to accept them in order to create an account. A site’s terms and conditions should always be easily accessible at any time. They are commonly found in the website’s footer or on the “About” section.
If a survey company does not have terms and conditions, or has fake terms and conditions, this is a fraud company.
It’s generally easy to spot fraud terms and conditions, because if you take 30 seconds to skim them they are nonsense. It will list company names like “ABC Company” or other gibberish that is not related to the name of the website.
6. Blurry Logos
Blurry logos always make me wince. Blurry, sloppy copy-and-pastes of news logos like ABC, CNN or Fox News may be wallpapered all over the site.
The website will often claim a connection to those blurry logos, saying something like: “As seen on” or “Recommended by.”
Sometimes you can’t always tell the logo is blurry, but look up close. Edges of the logo will not be crisp. You may notice a slightly different background color, or that it’s an old logo that the company hasn’t used in several years.
While blurry logos alone don’t mean the website is fake it’s a big red flag and should cause you to really scrutinize the website closely before you provide any information — including your email address to sign up.
7. Fake Testimonials
Fake testimonials are common on fraud websites.
A fake testimonial will make a fantastical claim like, “I make $800 an hour answering surveys. I was skeptical but then I got this check.” The testimonial may be next to a photo of a person holding up a blurred-out piece of paper.
Look out for claims that sound “too good to be true” in ads, on websites, or even from testimonials. Just because there’s a picture and a name doesn’t make that person or that review real.
8. No Member Support
Fake survey websites will have no member support or customer service. Legitimate survey sites, like Swagbucks or Opinion Outpost, offer members and potential members a variety of ways to get answers to their questions or contact customer service. Methods like chat agents, chatbots and support email are very common.
Additionally, legitimate survey sites will also have a Knowledge Desk or “Help” section with articles for you to read that address common site FAQs.
If you’re reviewing a new survey site, look for it to have at least 2-3 ways to provide member support.
9. No Payout Information
If a survey website has no payout information, this is another warning sign that the site may not be legit. By payout information, we mean detailed information about when and how you can get paid for answering surveys.
- Minimum balance or payout threshold needed to cash out your rewards.
- Types of reward options available.
- How the rewards are delivered and how long they take to process.
While you may be able to earn $10 and request a $10 payment on the same day, there is no legit survey site that can transfer funds or an eGift card to you within that same day. It will take at least a couple of business days to vet your account (i.e., making sure you are a legitimate member based in the U.S. or other eligible company) and then process the payment.
10. Advertised Toll-Free Number
An advertised toll-free number on a website is almost always indicative of fraud. Most companies don’t bother with toll-free numbers anymore, due to the proliferation of cell phones and free long-distance calling.
And businesses generally don’t plaster their toll-free number front and center on the website because they don’t want you to call — at least not as your first line of defense. They want you to post questions in forums, read FAQs and help articles or use chat support features to try and first find the answer to your question.
While it is possible a survey site you’re reviewing does have a toll-free number for you to call and request assistance, it will not be broadcasted in the oversized font on the homepage. If there is a toll-free number, try googling it and looking over the search results to see what pulls up.
How to Find Legit Paid Survey Sites
Legit survey sites enable you to earn Amazon gift cards, PayPal cash, and other rewards for sharing your honest opinions. Here’s how to identify a survey site with real money-making potential.
1. Free to Join
Legitimate paid survey sites, like LifePoints or Upromise, are free to join. You should never have to pay money in order to complete surveys and earn extra cash. In fact, most legitimate survey sites will even pay you money to sign-up in the form of a registration bonus.
InboxDollars, for example, will give you a free $5 signup bonus for joining and confirming your email address.
Sign Up Bonus: $5
With InboxDollars, you take surveys and earn cash, it's that simple. You can even earn by watching tv!
2. Realistic Earning Figures
A legitimate website will advertise realistic survey opportunities and earnings.
If a survey site promises $50 for a 3-minute survey, this is likely a scam. But if a survey site sets clear and realistic guidelines—like the ability to earn $1 for completing an 18-minute survey—this indicates a survey site is upfront and honest with its members.
The amount you earn for a survey is almost always related to the amount of time that you put in. Longer surveys will pay more, unless you belong to an extremely narrow demographic which makes your feedback especially invaluable.
A legitimate survey site will also make it clear that surveys are not a full-time job or wage replacement.
At best, surveys offer you a casual, online side hustle to make extra money during your spare time. Realistically, you could probably earn an extra $50 to $250 a month taking surveys on trusted sites like Toluna, American Consumer Opinion Panel, or Swagbucks.
Higher figures are just not realistic.
Swagbucks - Easy Online Rewards & Surveys
Sign Up Bonus: $10
Swagbucks is a legit money-making app where you can make money taking surveys, watching videos, playing games, and more.
3. Real Contact Information
Any site can advertise contact information in the form of a phone number, email address or physical mailing address. But it only takes a few seconds on Google to verify whether or not a street address is fake.
If there’s a help or contact email address, send a message. Does it go through and do you get a response? Or does it bounce back to your inbox because the email address isn’t real?
4. Third-Party Reviews
Third-party reviews are perhaps the best indicator of whether or not a survey site is legitimate. Real focus groups and survey sites should have online reviews from actual members that you can read.
Look for reviews on third-party sites like Trustpilot, SiteJabber, iTunes, Google Play Store or the Better Business Bureau.
Check the timestamps of these reviews to make sure they have come in over a wide time span (i.e., over several years) and not within a compressed period of time. For some survey scams, every single review is a perfect score that got left within a 3-day window.
Well-established survey sites, like Ipsos iSay or Pinecone Research, will have thousands of member reviews from over a broad span of time that you can read.
Good sites should have bad reviews too
Keep in mind that good survey sites will have bad reviews and you want to be able to read those ones too. If a survey company has glowing reviews only, you should be leery. That’s just too good to be true.
Most people leave reviews when they have had an exceptionally good or exceptionally bad user experience. Of course, you don’t want to join a site that has mostly all bad reviews — but if there are no bad reviews, watch out.
5. Social Media Presence
Not every legitimate survey site, especially newer ones, can have a social media presence. It takes time and resources to maintain social accounts on Facebook, TikTok, Twitter and other social platforms.
But the best survey sites, like MyPoints or Survey Junkie, will have social media pages.
Active social media accounts, in general, are an indicator that it’s a legitimate business.
Fake companies or survey sites can, and sometimes do, set up social media pages but you can identify some key red flags:
- It’s a recent social media Fraud accounts don’t last long, and all the posts are made within a short period of time. Look to see when the account launched.
- The IP address is suspicious. If the business claims to be an online survey company based out of Michigan but their Facebook page has an IP address in Istanbul, this is extremely fishy. You can find out more here about how to quickly find any webpage’s IP address and how to look up the IP’s geographic location.
6. Other Ways to Earn (like playing games or cash back shopping)
A legitimate online survey site wants to keep you engaged and regularly returning to their site or re-opening their app to make money. But they know that sometimes all surveys all the time can get tedious. Especially when you won’t qualify for every survey you want to take.
Because being disqualified from market research surveys can be frustrating, and just surveys alone can get boring, the best paid survey sites offer other online earning activities.
- InboxDollars offers members other ways to earn, like reading emails, playing games or shopping at popular retailers to earn cash back
- Survey Junkie offers SJ Pulse, a program for you to earn rewards in exchange for sharing how you engage with different brands online.
- MyPoints will pay you for shopping online, playing games or trying new offers in addition to the site’s paid survey opportunities.
MyPoints pays you when you shop online at your favorite retailers and delivers the rewards through free gift cards.
Paid Surveys Are A Legit Side Hustle
Online surveys offer an outstanding way to earn extra income, but are far from being an income replacement. That said, if you’ve got some downtime and want to earn some extra cash sharing your opinions, it’s worth giving surveys a go. How much you’ll make is tied to the number of surveys you’re able to complete each month. Earning up to a couple hundred dollars every month is probably realistic.
Additionally, surveys are a flexible side hustle you can do from anywhere — including your pajamas while loafing on the couch.
Before you sign up for any survey site though, make sure to do a little digging and look for any red flags like the ones we’ve covered in this list. Make sure you’re joining a legitimate survey community.
If you don’t have time to investigate survey sites on your own, check out this list of our favorite surveys sites that pay fantastic cash and gift card rewards.