Skip to main content

Don't Fall for Survey-Taking Scams!

Nolen Hart writes about making and saving money in a variety of specific ways.

Think twice before signing up to take paid surveys.

Think twice before signing up to take paid surveys.

My Experience: Trial and Error

A few years ago, I began to look for ways to make extra money on the web so that, eventually, I could stay home and be with my family instead of working at a job that required almost 100% travel. In the early 2000s, I began writing articles on several different online sites as well as selling items that I designed on Cafepress and Zazzle. I don't make a full-time living from online sources such as these, but the extra income I get from them allowed me to take a lower-paying job that was closer to home and still make ends meet.

I began to do fairly well on those sites in terms of money earned through commissions and from shared advertising revenue, so I thought I'd branch out and try some of the "paid survey sites" that everyone was promoting with their referral codes around the web to add another source of income. Here is what I learned, through trial and error, over a period of time, and why you should run, not walk away, when someone starts telling you how much income you can make from taking paid surveys.

Giving Away Your Privacy for 50¢?

Online surveys typically pay anywhere from one cent to eighty cents, depending on the difficulty involved, the product, etc. Some of these surveys can take up to half an hour to complete, and by the time you reach the end, you may find out that you "didn't qualify" for some reason they fail to tell you. On sites such as, for example, those over the age of 25 will soon learn that they are often discriminated against on the basis of their age. For example, you may start to take a survey related to the latest X-Box, only to find out after four or five minutes that you "don't qualify" for some unstated reason, even if you happen to own one.

But, since you entered all of your personal information, such as date of birth, address, race, and even phone number, you "could qualify for a $50,000 prize." Right! And they will be coming over to your house next week with the check, I'm sure. No . . . more than likely, you will begin to see in just a few short weeks, as I did, a huge increase in the amount of junk mail in your mailbox (both the one outside your home and your e-mail inbox).

Basically, when you participate in paid surveys, the site is selling (for pennies) your private information to companies who will use it for direct mail campaigns and other shady purposes. If you offer up your phone number on one of the survey forms, expect an automated, recorded call from "The Captain" of your next cruise, telling you about how to get a "free, all-expenses-paid trip to Nassau."

Creating online content that earns residual income may be a better use of your time than taking paid surveys.

Creating online content that earns residual income may be a better use of your time than taking paid surveys.

Scroll to Continue

Read More From Toughnickel

Please Don't Fall For Survey-Taking Scams Like I Did

I would venture to say that 99% of all the survey sites on the web are scams in some form or another. If they aren't outright scams, the payout per hour for the time spent is so small that you might as well be working in a sweatshop in some third-world country. Honestly, all you survey takers out there who are making a few bucks a month, how much time did you spend when you could have been writing articles for residual income or working at some other gig?

Writing articles that generate residual income can offer a payout lasting for years long after you did the initial work. On the other hand, if you don't mind carpal tunnel syndrome and the loss of your privacy, and you like working for less than a dollar an hour, then, by all means, go for it, my friends, sign up and survey away!

Even worse than low wages, survey companies often entice you to buy services such as satellite TV or "fruit of the month" on a trial basis as part of taking a survey. These services may be hard for you to cancel, especially if you set them up for direct billing, which is usually required.

For pennies, these sites encourage users to voluntarily give away their personal information and then lead them down a trail of false hopes that they will actually make money. The sites that actually do pay you a few cents for watching videos and then completing surveys may pay you the equivalent of around 50 cents an hour (or less).

What moron would sit around and watch video after video, followed by surveys, for fifty cents an hour? I guess that would have been me, trying to make the minimum payout of $50. I never made it past $20, even after obnoxiously posting one of these sites' referral codes all over the place for a year. I wish that I could get back all of the time that I wasted on these sites and use it instead to write articles or design products for my online sticker store.

My advice is to stick to sites that share Google Adsense revenue, offer their own advertising program or allow you to add Amazon Associates products to your articles, and you may actually see some real income over time. If you want to see your mailbox full of all kinds of junk mail and get called in the middle of supper, then, by all means, join a paid survey site.

Other Online Work Scams to Avoid

Another area of online work that you should probably avoid is that of sites that pay to complete repetitive tasks, such as Amazon Mechanical Turk. Amazon Mechanical Turk is a part of, which pays workers to do everything from sorting photos to transcribing receipts. There are also, wait for it . . . surveys that you can complete. I tried Amazon Mechanical Turk for one month. I worked really hard yet never made more than around $4.00 an hour. Perhaps others have had different results, but this was my experience. There are thousands of workers on AMT, and many are located in countries where the amount you earn per task or "HIT" may go farther than it does here in the U.S. Just consider that you will be competing with those same people for work on a platform that has no minimum wage.

This article has been based on my own personal experience with survey sites. If anyone has had their own experiences with these sites, either positive or negative, please feel free to share them in the comment section below.

© 2021 Nolen Hart

Related Articles