How to tell if a survey company is a scam or legit

The idea of earning money from survey sites and market research is really appealing.

What’s not to love about getting asked a few questions and being paid to give answers?

We know companies need to run focus groups. We know they need to test new products, new services, and new ideas like advertisements. As potential customers, our opinion matters.

But like anything else great in this world, there are thieves and scammers lurking around the corner ready to take advantage of unsuspecting people.

Ten years ago, most survey companies were clearly scams. Market research companies just weren’t looking online to pad their survey pools. Nowadays, many market research companies are using the internet to get more responses. The legitimate companies are drowning out the scams, but the scams still exist. And the scammers now have models to copy so they look like legit companies!

The end result is that it’s becoming increasingly hard to tell the difference between a legitimate opportunity and a scam.

💵 Want to earn extra money?

Today, we’re going to teach you how to tell the difference.

Do you want to see some real life examples of mystery shopping and work at home scams? Click here to see a breakdown of three separate scams – including how to identify them yourself and avoid getting scammed too.

Table of Contents
  1. What’s a scam?
  2. How the Legitimate Survey Business Works
  3. How the Scam Survey Business Works
  4. Beware Impersonators
  5. Who Can You Trust? (besides your gut)
  6. Here’s a survey site I find suspicious…
  7. Final quick tips…
  8. List of Legit Survey Sites

What’s a scam?

There are two types of scammy survey sites:

  1. Sites that just pitch you other products and services.
  2. Sites that make you pay to get surveys.

They lure you in with the promise of untold riches through market research but bait and switch it on you. In the first case, they make money off you when you sign up for other products or serices. In the second case, they get you to pay them.

The ones that make you pay to join are similar to the old “work at home” scams. Work at home scams are simple, the promise of “work” if you buy their “startup” package. Replace “work” with surveys and “startup” with membership fees and you have an old scam with a new facade.

In both cases, the companies will also take advantage of the juicy personal information you may have provided. To give you an idea of what happens, I defer to Troy Hunt, a security professional I last mentioned in “Why I Have a Secret Classified Email Address;” his post on how your data is used by giveaway sites (think of those “win a free iPad!” email submission sites) is must-read.

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How the Legitimate Survey Business Works

Before we get into how to determine if a survey opportunity is a scam, we need to understand how the legitimate market research business works.

A big well-known company (like a brand name consumer goods company) needs to do some market research or run a focus group. Both are expensive to do in person, as focus groups often pay $100+ for 60-90 minutes of work to a participant. You can only imagine how much the research company adds to the bill. Online surveys are much cheaper!

So those big companies hire a market research company to send out online surveys to folks with the right demographic target (age, income, marital status, geographic region, etc.). You have survey companies with enough business to run their own (Survey Junkie, Swagbucks, etc.) and you have smaller companies who are there to fill in the gaps.

These second tier companies are often the ones you see listed all over the internet.

In some cases, the survey company only does surveys. These purists are often the closest to the market research companies. In others, there are a lot of other “point earning” activities you can do like “read email” or “watch videos” or “play games.” (more on this later)

I’ve been doing surveys for about six months from a variety of vetted companies and you start seeing the same names – Qualtrics, (Federated Sample) – those are the main guys.

The tough part about market research is that it’s an unpredictable business. It’s unpredictable for the survey taker (you) because companies won’t always want your opinion.

The result is that you get surveys irregularly but you earn a little cash along the way.

You won’t feed your family with surveys but it can earn you a little extra to help pay bills and get further ahead financially.

If you want to see a list of confirmed websites that will pay you money, including paid survey sites, visit my page on 276+ websites that will pay you money. The list of survey sites is legitimate.

How the Scam Survey Business Works

The problem is that scam survey companies will prey on that trickle of money and suggest that they can send you a flood. They can’t. They make those promises so you’ll sign up.

Then what happens? They try to make money off you directly, rather than make money from market research companies by having you respond to surveys.

How do they make money off you? They send you offers, like entries into sweepstakes (enter your zip code and email for a chance to win a $500 Apples iTunes gift card!) or other scammier survey sites.

They’ll send you offers of free samples or some other bribe to get you to enter in an email. All the while, earning about $1-3 per sign up (that’s about the going rate for a double opt in email address).

Legitimate survey companies also face the problem of unpredictable surveys. Many of them have built up an entire ecosystem around the survey process to give you something to do if you don’t have a survey. You see companies like Swagbucks (Swagbucks review) and InboxDollars (InboxDollars review) offer different ways to earn points if you don’t have any surveys – some of these include offers.

The distinct difference between the two is that scam survey companies will often inundate you with offers immediately upon signup and without any suggestion that you’ll get anything out of it. Legitimate companies set it up like a cashback or pointback scenario, sign up for this offer and get 500 points or $5, thus cutting you in on the commission they earn. You still need to do your research though, which I’ll get into shortly.

For a scam survey business, you are the product.

Beware Impersonators

Recently, I’ve been asked by many readers if Company X or Company Y is legitimate.

In many of those cases, the name of the company was legitimate. The person they were talking to or emailing with was not.

The scammer was pretending to be working at a legitimate survey company!

Identifying this is very hard but if you’re asking questions, that’s a good thing. Call the company and find out if that person is real and works for them. I discovered this type of scam after a reader, Casey, asked me about Taylor Research company in the comments below.

Someone pretending to be from Taylor emailed him from a GMail account, which set off alarms for Casey (good!). When he called Taylor Research, who is very real and respected, he discovered that everything was real except the person who contacted him and the number he was supposed to call. He was the 3rd person to report it and the police are investigating.

Trust your gut!

Who Can You Trust? (besides your gut)

It’s hard to know who to trust before you sign up but I always look at the Better Business Bureau and see what their rating is, whether they have complaints, and what those complaints are about. One of the more popular sites, Swagbucks, has an A+ and 114 closed complaints in the last 3 years. 114 sounds like a lot but when you consider how many members it has and the time frame, ~3 a month is a low number.

Here are five survey companies I’ve signed up for and can confirm don’t have any of the flags listed below.

Then start looking for these red flags:

  • Never pay to join – Huge red flag, you should never be paying to join… legitimate companies spend a lot of money building their rosters because the more people they have, the more likely they can fill in those demographic gaps. They would never ask you to pay to join.
  • Never give social security number, credit card information, or full address – There’s really no need for any of that information. The most a company should ask for is general demographic information (age, sex, zip code, income, family, etc.), they don’t need your full address and certainly not your social security number.
  • If they force you to go through promotional offers before they show you anything – Some companies have added these other pieces, like watching movies and playing games, to the core survey offering. The reality is they only get so many surveys so to keep you an active member, they offer these others pieces. They don’t make you wade through offers to get to surveys.
  • Look for a privacy policy – Legitimate companies will always have a privacy policy and it will be prominently linked on their site, often in the footer. If it’s hard to find, I’d move on.
  • They email you from an anonymous account – A legitimate company won’t be emailing you from a or or some other free email service. They will have their own business website with their own email address, like
  • Never take a big payment of any kind where you have to pay some of it back – A common scam is for someone to send you a big check and have you send them something back of value, either money or an expensive product. It’s known as advance fee fraud and the check will bounce (after spending a few days looking like it’s successfully cashed) after a few days, once you’ve already sent back money or items. Never do this.
  • If it sounds too good… – The language companies use can tell you a lot about them. Scams will promise you hundreds or thousands of dollars a month or extremely high payouts on surveys. Your internal BS detector is very good, if you sense something is off then walk away.

Here’s a survey site I find suspicious…

Here’s the homepage… at first, nothing looks obviously suspicious about this company.


When you click on Get Started, the green box is replaced with a “letter” from “Patricia Johnson” with a form at the bottom for name and email. When you enter your name and email, you are sent to this screen where you watch a short video.

The video explains how “Kevin” makes hundreds or thousands of dollars making money sharing his opinion, from the comfort of his own home. The video explains how market research works, like I did in the paragraph above, and is completely accurate. The only complaint I have about the video is that it oversells how much these surveys pay and how much you can earn.


Watch long enough… and then this appears:

And that, my friends, is why I would never sign up for this site. They want you to pay for membership. Biggest red flag of them all.

The tricky part is that it’s hard to know before you sign up! You might be tempted, after putting in your information and watching a video, to give it a try. What’s the worst that can happen right?

Will you earn hundreds and thousands of dollars? Maybe.

Is it worth it? Maybe.

Would it shock you to know that this company is willing to pay a $26 commission for each person that signs up? 🙂

Final quick tips…

Here are some other ideas that can help:

  • Always use a separate “survey only” email address – Some companies pay you to “read email” (which is code for they’ll email you advertisements) and it can be a lot of email. Plus, if you end up accidentally signing up for a scam, you don’t trash your regular email address.
  • Set up a junk “tester” email address – If you are really worried, you can always set up a junk mail only “tester” email address (I have a gmail account I never check, specifically for this) to run through the sign up process once, just to make sure. Sometimes you can get away with using a temporary disposable email, like the ones offered through Guerrilla Mail, but sometimes sites will not allow you to sign up with a disposable email address.
  • Check the BBB – If the name is extremely generic with lots of dashes, it’ll be hard to find their company name. This itself is a bit of a red flag because most of the legitimate companies have real names to help with the branding. The ones with generic words don’t want to stand out! For legitimate companies, it should be easy to find them on the Better Business Bureau.
  • Check if they are affiliated with CASRO – The CASRO (Council of American Survey Research Organizations) is the leading market and survey research organization.

If you find a survey company and aren’t really sure whether they’re legit, you can always email me and I can take a look. I can even be your guinea pig and sign up first. 🙂

Just send me an email with the name of the company and I’ll take a peek.

List of Legit Survey Sites

This list includes the legitimate survey sites I know. If the company you’re wondering about is on this list, you can be reasonably assured they’re legitimate at the time of this writing. If they aren’t on the list, they could still be legitimate just smaller (so I don’t know about them). I just can’t say either way. All these companies are on my list of ways to make money.

If you want to share an experience (good or bad) you had with a market research company, let us know in the comments.

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About Jim Wang

Jim Wang is a forty-something father of four who is a frequent contributor to Forbes and Vanguard's Blog. He has also been fortunate to have appeared in the New York Times, Baltimore Sun, Entrepreneur, and Marketplace Money.

Jim has a B.S. in Computer Science and Economics from Carnegie Mellon University, an M.S. in Information Technology - Software Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University, as well as a Masters in Business Administration from Johns Hopkins University. His approach to personal finance is that of an engineer, breaking down complex subjects into bite-sized easily understood concepts that you can use in your daily life.

One of his favorite tools (here's my treasure chest of tools,, everything I use) is Personal Capital, which enables him to manage his finances in just 15-minutes each month. They also offer financial planning, such as a Retirement Planning Tool that can tell you if you're on track to retire when you want. It's free.

He is also diversifying his investment portfolio by adding a little bit of real estate. But not rental homes, because he doesn't want a second job, it's diversified small investments in a few commercial properties and farms in Illinois, Louisiana, and California through AcreTrader.

Recently, he's invested in a few pieces of art on Masterworks too.

>> Read more articles by Jim

Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of any bank or financial institution. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Reader Interactions


About the comments on this site:

These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

  1. Holly says

    Using a separate email account is key in my opinion. It seems like anything you want to sign up for these days will immediately add you to some type of email list. Some websites even send out multiple emails per day…on purpose! My extra email, which I use to sign up for deals, has thousands and thousands of spam and promotional emails at any given time.

    • Jim says

      Yeah definitely, I think a segregated email is crucial… the market research companies do send a lot of email so I like to use my junk email address. 🙂

        • Jim Wang says

          Not enough information to say for sure but if you google the name, it pops up on a lot of sites asking whether they’re a scam… not a good signal.

    • Jim says

      There are a lot of crappy sites but also a lot of good ones, fortunately the bad ones look a certain way, act a certain way. 🙂

  2. Jill says

    my husband and I recently received a letter in the mail addressed to him from America Survey Research giving us both user names to go the the web address listed and complete a survey. if we do so we will receive $2. and responding also makes up eligible got follow up surveys each will earn me $2 or more per survey. at the bottom it states after completing the survey I can expect to receive CASH in the mail within 1-2 weeks. this doesn’t seem legit. do people really mail cash?


    • Jim Wang says

      I have been mailed cash before but I’ve never heard of “America Survey Research,” have you googled their name and address to find out any more information about them?

      • Jill says

        yes and I don’t find any hits on with the website given.
        the first hit is CASRO

        the website given is

      • eric says

        Yeah, thanks so much for your advice. Can u please send me some of the survey sites that are legit? I need it badly. Thank you.

      • Frederick says

        Hi. I am also wondering about American Survey Research (but their website supposedly is; I say supposedly, because there’s not much to see when you go there).

        I’ve actually been sent money by this outfit. For their first survey, they sent me $2 cash, and for the second one, which was longer, they sent me $5 cash. It’s real money, but now I’m wondering if I’m being set up for something on down the line — or if I inadvertently gave them info I shouldn’t have.

        The reason I wonder, in addition to their generic sounding name and virtually empty website, is that the surveys didn’t amount to much, just a few demographic questions and a couple of political ones (“How likely are you to vote?”; “Who are you most likely to vote for?”). I’ve spent a lot more time filling out surveys that I did for free!

        I don’t think I gave up any essential info, such as my social security number (If I did, I’d be kicking myself). But they did need my mailing address to send me my cash.

        Anyway, this could be legit, and I don’t want to sound ungrateful for the 7 bucks I got, but now they’re saying they may send me more emails to invite me to participate in other surveys for cash. It’s not a ton of money, but am I really even that valuable to them, given what that their surveys seemed rather superficial to me?

        • Jim Wang says

          I think your skepticism is completely fair but I can’t find much information about them either. I would just tread very carefully. Money is great but it is only $7 (don’t feel like you are being ungrateful or grateful, you worked for that money if even if it doesn’t seem like you did) so please be careful.

      • Frederick says

        This is a follow-up to my previous message/question about this.

        The websites and apparently were created in August of this year, with an expiration of just one year from now. Their domain ownership and location info are hidden. I wish I had kept the envelopes I received the money in, to see I could tell where they were mailed from.

        I’m wondering if the money is a way to build trust, and later they will ask me to send *them* money for something, or will ask for bank account/credit card info, etc. If so, they’ll get nothing from me. But I do worry a little that by going this far with them (taking two surveys and having them send me some cash already), I’ve inadvertently opened myself to problems.

        • Jim Wang says

          I don’t have much information about them so I don’t know for sure, but it could be a way to build trust but as long as you don’t give too much information (no way you need to give bank account or cc info), do not send them money, and only accept cash – you should be OK.

          You can always ignore future contact.

          • Frederick says

            Thank you. I think I’ll ignore their future invites, just to be on the safe side. The almost complete absence of a web presence or record of anything about them makes me suspicious.

          • Frederick says

            I’m back with a bit more follow-up on this company. I ignored two or three more of their solicitations to participate in further surveys, then I didn’t hear from them anymore until two or three weeks ago. This time, their website had a bit more information, including pictures and email addresses of their two researchers (maybe it’s just a tiny but legitimate start-up). This at least made it feel more real than it did before.

            Anyway, they invited me to participate in another survey for $5 cash, so I did it. It was a pretty simple and quick political opinion survey, but the questions were worded in push-poll style (they seemed to be trying to get a particular response on the issue of health care). I’m still waiting on the $5, but’s only been a couple of weeks.

            Right away they asked me to participate in *another* survey for $5. I started to do it, but abandoned it part-way through because all the questions were about political issues in Washington state and I don’t live in Washington state. I didn’t think it would be right to say if I would support a ballot measure that I know nothing about, in a state where I don’t live!

            So now I do feel a little better about these folks. So far they still haven’t tried to get any information from me that I wouldn’t want to be giving out. I don’t think they’re out to scam me. If it’s push-polling they’re doing that might be a little questionable, and they could stand to improve their demographic targeting, but that’s about it.

        • Ed says

          Frederick, I just got one from American Survey Research ( and I saved the envelope. Not much on it but it was mailed from 95813 (SACRAMENTO) Presorted Standard U.S. Postage Paid.

          I took it and it seemed legit.

          • Freerangemom says

            Mine was a political research question about an extremely volatile issue. I’m unwilling to share my opinion to be used in a political argument even if they gave me $2,000 unless I knew who was behind the survey and how the information was going to be used.

        • D says

          mine was mailed from PO Box 24142, Brooklyn, NY 11202 if that helps. I was worried myself but this site made me feel much better.

  3. Marge W. says

    Is AIM research, assistance in marketing, in Hackensack NJ legit? I received an email from them to participate in a focus group. I found a few comments about their staff but that was all I could find.
    Marge W.

  4. Jen says

    Have you heard of attest market research..someone sent us a message through LinkedIn w an offer to do some market is sent to us upfront and we go buy a product and give them feedback on product knowledge etc..sounds too good to be true.

    • Jim Wang says

      It sounds reasonable but without more information it’s hard to say – how well do you trust the person who sent the message? How will they send money? etc. You need more information.

    • JP says


      Do you accept the offer w Attest? I received the same email so I am wondering if it is legit. Thanks.

      • Thomas says

        I came to this site to check if allied market research is a scam, too. I signed up as a mystery shopper with them. The check they sent to me bounced. I was just lucky that I had not sent pictures of the iTunes cards they asked me to buy to them. Once I was notified at my bank that the account that the check was issued from had been closed, I emailed allied market research to find out what was going on. I never heard back from them.

  5. Casey says

    Hi Jim,

    Thanks for the great write-up. I recently received an e-mail from Taylor Research (, Inc. in which they offer you compensation for being a Research Analyst. Upon visiting their website and clicking that you’d like to become a ‘market research participant’, it takes you to a new site ( where you can register to be a part of 3 different types of panels (consumer, executive or medical) and be paid for various assignments (reviewing products, providing expertise via your profession, etc).

    Have you had any experience with Taylor Research or Your Opinion Counts or know anything about them?

    Initial red flags: initial email sent from a gmail account, request for address.

    BBB has them listed as a registered company for many years with no complaints. Other online review sources are a mixed bag, but nothing referencing any sort of fraudulent activity (waste of time, etc.. that kind of poor review, when poor).

    Thanks for your opinion.

    • Jim Wang says

      I would call Taylor Research from the number on their website and ask them if this is how they recruit – using a gmail account sounds suspicious to me. That said, all the stuff matches ( is run by Taylor Research) so I feel like you, it’s 50/50.

      My guess is the biggest fear is that someone is pretending to be them.

      • Casey says

        You were correct in someone pretending to be them. While a majority of the information in the e-mail was accurate, including the good-standing and very legitimate Taylor Research company – the email and phone provided in this e-mail were the fraudulent components. However if one were to register through the website provided (which was a link to the true and real Taylor Research firm), one would simply be denied as a participant unless they happened to live in San Diego where the particular research firm is based.

        After calling Taylor Research I was informed that police have just started to investigate more, as I was the 3rd person to call with this report.

        Thanks for your advice. 🙂

        • Jim Wang says

          Whew! I thought that might be the case – glad the police are on the case.

          Taylor Research looked very real but using a Gmail account to contact you seemed fishy. 🙂

          And thank you for following up and taking the time to share the conclusion.

          • Wanda says

            Hope u get this. I got an email from DigitalSurvey support. Says something abt up to $118.50 for every Q&A. That there sounds like BS! It asks me to accept. Any help would b appreciated. Thanks!

  6. Mfezeko says

    Good day.

    I am currently doing surveys for and I have no way of telling if they are legit or not. Could you please assist me.

      • C says

        Doesn’t look good how? Becuase from what I have read most people have cashed out, but have not waited the full 14 WORKDAYS, to get their money before complaining that they haven’t received it. I am waiting for someone who has done the work, waited all the business days and then get their review. I need an honest, detailed review from someone who has really dove into the program. Thanks.

        • Jim Wang says

          Right, I agree with your premise and all I was saying was that I did a quick search online and it doesn’t look good. I haven’t used it myself.

          • C says

            In more research on my own, they are definitely a scam. No way of cancelling your account, no way of changing/editing your payout information, they do not respond to their contact us inquiries, legit owners cannot be found. Their scam is when you enter your Payza or PayPal information they use that information to attempt to get into your PayPal and Payza accounts to get your bank info. They are betting on most people using the same password, which a lot of people do. Since they already have your Paypal name because you entered it on email. Can we all agree scams totally, I was totally willing to put the work in. High payouts (instant red light) for every survey for little work and of course referral so you find more people for them (caution light).

  7. Adriana says

    Do you have any information about a company Worthsend Survey WM? I recently received a letter from this company which provides assignments where you would visit an assigned department store and write a survey about your experience. They also included a check for your expenses and partial for your pay, that must be cashed before doing the assignments. Have you heard anything about this company?

    • Casey says

      Hey there,
      If they send you a cashier’s check, you need to call the bank that it was sent from. AND if there is no phone number on the check to the bank account, it is fraudulent. Typically, anytime they send you payment IN ADVANCE and ask you to make a purchase, it is a scam. When they say “wait for the funds to be available”, it sounds legit, but that’s because the funds are typically available within a day or two, and it may take up to a couple of weeks before your bank realizes it is fraudulent. Now you will be responsible for taking care of that payment. Before of MarketVision Research company as well!

  8. A. Randolph says

    I’ve recently fallen victim to one of those work from home scam. this person contacted me telling me he ‘filled a position’ for a job I was looking for using the exact job title I applied for on the ziprecruiter app. Then offered me a job as his “personal assistant” I was sent money, told to send money to someone to buy something, and the check bounced. Now I owe my bank.

    I’m scared that they are using job searching apps like ZipRecruiter to get peoples information.

    what should I do now, because another person contacted me acting like they from the app too, they mentioned it in their email to me, but they are asking me to do close to the same thing. so I did not write them back.

    • Jim Wang says

      Scammers will use any resource they can to separate us from our money. If it’s a popular resource, it’ll eventually become a target. I’m sorry you had to deal with something like that. 🙁

      I would not write that person back either.

      • ALBERT SCRIP JR says

        Hi Jim, I have a question. I have been completing surveys for a Company that I believe to be legitimate. Most surveys will solicit my age and that’s acceptable to me because a surveyor may be looking for a targeted age group to analyze. But, why would they then ask for the exact date and year of your birth, redundant. By the way, most surveys allow you to opt out on certain queries, not this last one, you are stopped dead in your track. Any thoughts on this? Thanks

        • Jim Wang says

          That’s a good question — sometimes they do this to make sure you’re paying attention and not just answering questions randomly. Sometimes they use it to confirm it’s you, so the date has to match what you told them when you signed up. If you are concerned, always use January 1st, XXXX where XXXX is your actual birth year. This way they get the correct demographic information but do know your actual birthday. (fwiw, that’s what I do, except I use my actual birth month)

    • Jim Wang says

      I don’t know much about them either but they are affiliated with Precision Opinion, a pretty large data collection firm.

  9. Seo says

    Hi Jim! Just came across
    Any information on this company? Thanks in advance!

    • Jim Wang says

      I don’t know much about them other than they appear to be relatively small (under 1000 likes on their Facebook page) and they share the exact same address as Leverage Funding, which does check cashing (according to a Yelp listing).

  10. Caressa says

    You are fantastic! I’m disabled and try to fill my time and make a few bucks for food doing a few of these surveys. I was looking for a product testing site but sorting out what’s legit and what isn’t seems to have exhausted me! I appreciate your page and time thank you!

  11. Shell says

    I was contacted by a company wanting to do medical research via email. Then I responded and was contacted by phone. I was given the website…..Probe Market. Does anyone have information? I see they’re not part of the BBB. Unfortunately I gave my full address and phone number.

    • Lynette Eberhart says

      Dear Shell,

      We are legitimate and will not share any personal information (including your name, telephone and mailing address) with anyone. We only collected your last name & address so that we could mail you your check after the study, otherwise we generally do not collect that information.

      Please let me know if you have any further questions or concerns.

      Lynette Eberhart
      Probe Research

  12. Anthony Gracey says

    I accepted an offer to be a mystery shopper through a company named Market Research Opinions and the acceptance email came from a Karen Lane. They sent me an email today saying that a check sent by Priority Mail from the USPS in the amount of $1,8710 will be sent to me by the next business day. I am instructed after depositing the check to keep $350 as services rendered and to use $1,500 to purchase three iTunes gift cards and observe the atmosphere of the process of this transaction. Also, I am instructed to send them a copy of the bar code serial numbers of the iTunes cards purchased, but not to use them until I am instructed. I am having misgivings about this

    • Jim Wang says

      There’s a very good chance, knowing nothing about that company or the people you’re talking to (if they even are from that company), that it’s a scam. It’ll come as a “cashier’s check” (in quotes because it’s a fake check) – your misgivings are correct. No legitimate business I know about operates in that way.

    • Reese Rothstein says

      I have a similar experience. A friend sent me a LinkedIn message about an opening for a secret shopper postition with a company called Total Research. They just asked for my name, phone number and email. I filled the little section out and got a response within the next few days form a lady named Karen Lane. They had accepted me and were going to send me a bank check for $1870.30 with the same pretense, keep $350 for yourself and buy 3 $500 Walmart gift cards. I received this check today. I am to observe the associate tending to me and relay my observations. Scratch off to reveal the code on the backs of the giftcards and send them pictures of the front and back of each one. The check has the names: Thomas A Bayers and Patricia E Bayers. The names on the envelope sending the check are Lionel Gabi and Timothy Brooks. The contact info for Karen Lane is [email protected]. I have the same hesitancy as everyone else does. I just thought this would be a good opportunity but the check scares me. Lol.. I couldn’t find anything about these people or the company. I won’t be cashing the check. What do you think of all this?

    • Jim Wang says

      They seem to be a legitimate company but there are a lot of negative reviews on BBB (there always tends to be a skew towards negative on reporting sites like this). I’ve never used them so I don’t know for certain how good they are.

  13. Gail says

    I signed up with MySurvey. At first all was good, then they asked me to participate in a challenge thing, where I had to answer questions and video cooking meat. I had to download an app. This was weeks ago. I was supposed to be rewarded just for getting accepted, then more points when the challenge was completed. No sign of either. Now that I have complained, every long survey I take, after I click the Submit button, it comes up with the message that an error has happened. I think they are using my survey input, but not giving me the points. I keep getting fobbed off if I make contact via email…….

    • Jim Wang says

      I haven’t heard of them before but the BBB rates them a C+, which is not good. They’ve been around for a while, nearly 10 years, and I’m not sure why they get a C+ since they’ve only had one complaint. (though they probably didn’t respond to it)

      My feeling is that I’d probably pass on it. This isn’t based on anything specific, just gut feel. Most of the survey companies have pretty good reputations with BBB and you can keep yourself pretty busy with just those.

  14. Jesusa Perez says

    Do you know anything about Knowledge Panel or OpinionHire surveys They are not on your legit list. Thanks

  15. Sheila says

    Just received a letter from UTellUs inviting me to join a scientific research panel. A personal access number was provided to be used on their website in order to sign up for the panel. They write, in bold letters, that “no one at UTellUs will ever try to sell you anything or give your personal information to an outside organization.” $2 were enclosed in this letter, for me to keep. They say that I could “receive U-Points” that I could redeem for electronic gift cards or physical checks, and that I would get 500 U-Points for completing my first survey. The letter provides a toll free information number along with the website address. The letter is signed by James T. Mellick, President – UTellUs Panel.

    Problem is, at the bottom in fine print, it says that UTellUs us managed under the supervision of Precision Opinion. When I checked BBB for Precision Opinion, the BBB gives it an “F” rating. Do you have any info on UTellUs?

    • Jim Wang says

      I don’t but when I did some basic research they seem OK but the F is concerning.

      If you dig into the complaints & reviews though, there’s more to the story. The only review was from an employee who had trouble getting confirmation of employment for their apartment.

      The complaints are more indicative of what’s going on and for some it’s an issue of too many calls. For others, it’s about paying out rewards. It sounds like my worry about too many phone calls and hoops to jump through to get rewards. Is it worth it? Maybe, maybe not. There are other survey companies w/o these issues.

      • Sheila says

        Thanks for the quick reply, Jim.

        Yeah, I didn’t give too much weight to the one review. It was sort of rambling and didn’t make much sense to me. As far as the complaints, I couldn’t really understand why people were getting these non-stop phone calls. Was it because, when they signed up with Precision, they elected to have the phone as their way of contact for surveys? A few of the people said they had never heard of Precision when they started getting the phone calls.

        What concerned me the most really were the complaints about getting the rewards. UTellUs states in the letter that the intrinsic reward of making an impact on the community outweighs the financial rewards. If I just want to express my opinion, I can do that on facebook. I am only interested in the financial rewards, and i daresay many others are as well.

        I went to the UTellUs site, and it seemed okay, except for one thing. In the letter that they sent, they say U-Points can be redeemed for gift cards OR a physical check. However, it says nothing about physical checks on the website at all. Should I take this as a red flag of sorts?

        Thanks again for your time, Jim.

  16. Kyle says

    Mintvine is a scam. I redeemed $10 and While waiting for it to process worked up another $15. All of my info was verified (PayPal) and I got a rejection. Tried customer support, Facebook, twitter, you name it. Needless to say this place is a complete scam I’ve got no response and basically just ripped me off. Do a google search on the latest reviews and you will see the same…just wished I had done that myself before doing all those surveys. I would like to add I abided by every rule & always answered honestly in surveys so there is absolutely no excuse.

    • Jim Wang says

      That’s odd, I’ve gotten cashed out several times and never had a problem. What was the explanation?

  17. robert pavlik says

    VERY helpful. The information and especially the “legit” survey co.’s.
    Thank you!

  18. Carl JACOBSEN says

    Hi Jim —
    Just got an email from Opinion Research LLC to participate in a “transportation” survey in exchange for a $10 Amazon gift card. Being curious, I researched them. They list a PO Box in Washington DC in zip code 20091. This is not a legitimate zipcode and they do not have a business license to operate in the District of Colombia. Moreover, they list (844) 458-2822 as their phone number. This is a toll-free prefix and, when I called the number, I found it was no longer working. Their email address has a “co” extension, instead of “com”, which indicates a British location.
    Hope this helps.

    • Jim Wang says

      It looks like you did your homework and probably don’t trust them. Based on what you shared with me, I wouldn’t do the survey.

    • Geraldina Crawford says

      A Secret Shopper Bid Tried Contacting Me Called PETAMING SURVEY LLC And They Sent Me A Check For $1888.03 And Wanted Me To Cash It At My Bank Keep $300 And That They Would Later Tell Me What To Do With The Rest, I Also Noticed Their Email Address Was @hotmail. That’s Not All, It Says That Their Out Of Miami, Florida,Yet Their Check Was Is Of Another State.

  19. Rocky Smith says

    Just got a packaged from Beta Research Corporation. The email address Charles used was [email protected]. Their website is He sends me 3 personal money orders that are signed by him and he wants me to get 3 $850 money orders and 10 stamp books. Seem very fishy to me. What do you guys think? He also wants me to text him when i deposit the money. Have any of you heard of this? Who do I contact to report?

    • Dee says

      Rocky Smith, I just received a similar package from the same company, Beta Research. My package contained 3 money orders drawn on TCF National Bank for $995.75 each. An Assessment form was included and this was mailed to me by a Charles Alworth. Very FISHY!!!!

      • Viktoriya says

        Mine was sent to me by Tony Howe, a check for $2999.95, instructing me to leave $300 for myself and go purchase 3 money orders from the post office for $875 then text a 484 area code number for further instructions. Fishy. So i emailed the real company and asked if they had a Tony Howe working there and that I was sent a very large check – they advised me its a Linked in Scam. The email he contacted me from is a gmail account.

  20. Amanda says

    Hi! Thanks for this! I was wondering if someone could help me check the validity of an offer I received from Beta Reasearch Inc. It seems to be a reputable company, but I’m worried about being scammed. Has anyone else had experience with this group? Thank you.

  21. Le Ila McCleary says

    Thank you so much for the info.Two questions; Is inboxpays the same as inboxdollars? Same for opinioncity and opinion outpost. I seems they are using it to confuse people.

  22. Bre says

    My husband has just deposited a check in our account and he thought it was all for him, 5 days later they want him to send a large amount through western union. Is this a scam…it is B2B International Market Research.

    • Jim Wang says

      That might be legitimate but I won’t know unless I saw the postcard. That’s such a small amount, unless they end up sending you thousands of dollars, you’re probably OK. At worst, you lose the time you spent taking the survey.

  23. Linda Hanf says

    Ask Markets sent me $1990 to do survey. After looking at their letter with math errors I became suspicious. Thank you for your very informative site. Who do I report this to.

    • Jim Wang says

      I’m not 100% sure who to report it too but I’d go with the USPS if it was mailed to you, they can take it from there.

  24. Alisha says

    Signed up on for a survey job and a couple weeks later I received a check in the mail for $2600 and a paper telling me to email the address to receive my next steps to complete surveys. The company is B2b International Market survey. Wondering if it is a scam or not.

  25. Elayne Gail says

    I cannot believe any halfway intelligent person would deposit an unknown check and not wait until it clears before doing anything. And why deposit a check, anyway, that you have done nothing to earn or deserve, obviously, something is fishy, Helloooooo

    • Jim Wang says

      Everyone is in different situations. These scammers prey on people who are the must vulnerable and sometimes you see a light and you aren’t sure.

      FWIW, the checks “clear” for a day or so. That’s part of the scam.

      • judi says

        my son’s girl friend was so excited when she recieved a $5,000 ck from a supervisor from this legit company after she spoke with him on the phone and gave him her address. Well the check for $5,000 did come, I told her to take a photo of the check and email it to me. The check was to be cashed to buy computer equipment to setup a home business with this company. Now some banks will cash the check from the bank that is printed on the check without having an account with the bank. I know because my son got a check from his grandma for $200.00. Since he needed this cash asap his bank teller told him to take the check to the bank it was from. I told her to do the same. To make a long story short the check was for Regions Bank, she took it there and they told her it was a fake!!! Now if she were to deposit into her account, lord knows what would happen. Oh, and she was to call the supervisor after the check was cashed and send him the copy of her deposit slip…

        • Jim Wang says

          The scams rely on you depositing the money, spending it, and then sending something to them. The check itself isn’t dangerous, it would eventually just bounce and you may owe a fee for the bounced check. The scammer wouldn’t get access to your account though.

          Either way, glad she was able to get it checked out and nothing worse happened.

  26. Sandy says

    I don’t see Simmons Surveys listed in your “legit” survey companies. Do you know anything about them? I did a survey for them in 2017 where I answered about 100 questions in 2 different books and was paid about $80. They are rated by the BBB as A+. Now they want me to join the SimmonsConnect Research Panel. “When you join the study you are contributing to research that can help shape the internet”.
    But they want me to download an app to track my internet use. I am wary of this. Thanks!

    • Jim Wang says

      I don’t know, I’ve never heard about them but if they paid you for your time then it sounds OK to me. Just be wary if they start asking you for money or other unreasonable things.

  27. Sue Feltman says

    Wondering if Ask Markets LLC is a legit mystery shopping company? I have done surveys thru several real survey sites (Survey Junkie, Swagbucks). I was asked thru one of those links if I was interested in being a mystery shopper. Just curious if you have had any experience with this company.

    • adrian says

      I just received a package from them ASK Market LLC . Just does not feel its legitimate. They want me to casjh a $2650 check at my bank, buy two diffrent gift cards at an apple store totaling $2400. and then filling a survey . They don’t say what i should do with the gift cards . They just want a picture of receipt and scratched off card .

      Sounds Very Fishy! Not doing it . My advise is to stay away

          • Jim Wang says

            What’s hard to know is if it’s really Ask Market LLC – they could be legit but maybe it’s a scammer pretending to be them. It’s always hard to get a true and correct answer, unfortunately.

      • Bluegal says

        I got the same thing from Ask Market LLC! I looked up the site as they sent me a text msg, and I replied I had not received the check yet after I signed up. I just got the check today, and its $2,450 and I have to buy 2 Apple gift cards and my compensation is $250. I looked up the site again and the domain is up for sale. The guy’s name is David Kippne MBA

  28. Wendy says

    Has anyone worked with
    I received a check from them for $2,250.00. For this I have to check out my local Wal-Mart (i wish I could send you a screenshot of the letter)
    They want me to buy anything up to $50, note how long it takes to get through the transaction, note the name of the cashier and if she/he said ‘welcome to Wal-Mart’ right away. Then here’s the kicker. They want me to send $1830 to two people on the Wal-Mart2Wal-Mart money transfer as they are checking for slow transfers, missing funds and unbalanced charges. I’ve to log the combined times to get through the transactions.. The receivers are in TX.
    Now here is the thing that got me. I have to execute the assignment no later than three days after I RECEIVE the check. That’s definitely not right! I put the check in my account via snapshot so I still have the check in my hands. I’ve printed all emails and kept all communications in messenger. I’ve told them I can’t deposit till Tuesday so the three days don’t count. I will go on to my bank on that day with the check and speak with the manager about it. I know to wait extra days after deposit so I’ll tell them it hasn’t gone through yet and I’m not paying a dime out of my money. They’ll have to wait.
    Can’t wait to see what this Dale Lynd says when I tell them it bounced, because I know it will. I can’t find anything on them, and Been Verified can’t find anything on names, phone#s or email. Sorry it is lengthy, but I want to help others not get scammed by these people.
    Can you check out this email for me?
    market. [email protected]

    • Jim Wang says

      This has all the markings of a fraud. I can’t check that email though, there’s no way to “check” an email for anything like that.

  29. judi says

    Spent time watching hrs of videos, along with charges for those offers on my credit card and stiil have not recieved credit for all the money i have earned since nov 2017 with panda research!!! not only is it a waste of time, i cost me over $200 in charges to my credit card. panda research is a SCAM!!!

  30. Martin says

    I received an e-mail from asking for volunteers for a Focus Group of owners of compact SUV’s. It was for a 2 hour Focus Group and I would be paid $225. When I called it all sounded legit and I was told I would need to drive to a facility called Focus Point Global site for the meeting. The next day, I was called and told they made an error and the Focus Group was already booked, but since I test drove one of the vehicles, they still want to meet with me one on one and would come to my house on a Sunday at 6pm. Who does this kind of work on a Sunday evening. I’m now a little skeptical. I’m thinking of offering to meet at a local coffee shop instead. Do you have any information on Q-Insights?

    • Jim Wang says

      Hmmm that sounds suspicious but not fraudulent. A lot of those survey companies work off hours because they recognize that you have to work. So focus groups are from like 6-8pm, etc.

      I would meet at a coffee shop and see what happens. A human being’s fraud detector is pretty good, especially in person, so if you get a weird vibe just leave. I would never invite a stranger to my house.

  31. Dolores Hatch says

    Hi Jim, I was recently contacted by a past work acquaintance through LinkedIn about doing surveys to supplement my income. She said that she has done it for years. Somehow, I am thinking how can this be as she is a nurse practitioner and was somewhat skeptical about her need to supplement her income. But I signed up and responded to the link that she sent to me. (Perhaps her LinkedIn account was hacked? She no longer works at the same company that I do so I don’t have a work email or phone number to contact her. I contacted her with my questions on her LinkedIn account.) Yesterday in the mail I received a Cashier’s Check for $2,900.42. The instructions enclosed in the envelope along with the check stated that I should deposit the check and retain $400.00 for my first payment. I was told to purchase Ebay Gift cards in various denominations of $50, $100, $200 and $500 using $2,500.00.
    I am to open the cards, peel the silver scratch-off area and capture the images of the cards front and back. They told me not to discard the cards as they will be needed for my forthcoming assignment. They said I will be asked to provide the name of the store, their address, date and time of visit and the name of the person assisting me with my purchase. There were no further instructions provided.
    The check was drawn on the St. Louis Community Credit Union 1250 Graham Rd., Florissant, MO 663031. There is a reference name on the check of Cerissa C. Hinson (this is not the name of the person who reached out to me on LinkedIn). I researched the Credit Union on the internet and they appear to be legitimate. I received the check in a Priority Mail (USPS) envelope from: Heather Perry at J4 Calle Tiburcio Berty, Carolina PR 00987-6610 . In my email today, I was asked by Henry Patton, Director (Human Resources & Staffing) Infotel/LinkedIn Secret Survey Program to confirm receipt of the envelope. I have tried to research online to see if the LinkedIn Secret Survey Program is a scam and also Infotel and I can’t locate any information on BBB or anywhere else. Can you please investigate and let me know if this is a legitimate survey service?

    • Jim Wang says

      Hi Dolores – I believe we’ve been emailing this morning and based on what you sent me, it appears fraudulent. As we discussed, it’s best to report this to the bank and USPS to let them handle it.

  32. Rick Edwards says

    Hello Jim,

    I just received a check for 2959.00 from GFK research telling me to deposit the check and purchase Apple gift cards and iTunes. Keep 400.00 for completing a survey.
    It sounds exactly like the other scams listed. I will be reporting to Post Office.


  33. Regan says

    Is White Loft Surveys a legit site? They sent me large amounts of money to go to an Apple Store and evaluate it. I had tried to contact them to not do this assignment but I have gotten no response. I am not going to cash the check as I am scared they are trying to hack my information. Is this okay or should I do anything else besides this? I am very worried.

    • Jim Wang says

      I don’t know about them specifically but this sounds like a common mystery shopping scam.

      Chances are they sent you a cashier’s check for a few thousand dollars and want you to buy iTunes gift cards, send them photos of the codes, and then “write” about the experience. You can keep the change, right? If that’s the case, then it’s something we’ve seen often.

      There’s also a chance that White Loft Surveys is a legitimate company but the people sending you the check are only pretending to be them. Either way, I wouldn’t cash that check and I’d go straight to the authorities.

      • Emma says

        I was just about to ask about White Loft Surveys as well. They recently mailed me 3 cashiers checks for $980 EACH and am instructed to go to an Apple store and purchase two different gift cards. All of their correspondence has been through text message and they ignore me when I ask if anything will be emailed. They claim that one of their agents will pick up the merchandise from me at the store but how are they supposed to know when I’m there? To top it off, the envelope they mailed me didn’t even have the company name on it. Even though I thought the website looked legit, I’m going with my gut that this company is definitely a scam. How do I get them to stop harassing my phone about my first assignment?

        • Jim Wang says

          I don’t know how to get them to stop harassing you but I’d start by blocking whatever number they use to call. The calls and texts will be annoying but it’s better than being scammed!

  34. Bridget says

    I have been doing mystery shopping for over 10 years now. Legitimate businesses will have you perform the shop first, submit receipts in addition to filling out a lengthy report, online not via mail. 30-60 days later, you will receive payment plus the quoted reimbursement. If they send you a check upfront and request for you to deposit and purchase things, it’s a scam. ABORT immediately. A lot of them sound too good to be true however legitimate businesses will tell you a spending budget, relatively small in addition to paying $10-20 per assignment.

    Recently, White Loft Surveys has been floating around. Decided to sign up to see the process. Large check came in and instructed to purchase (2) large amount gift cards in which I keep $330. Don’t deposit check and report to local authorities.

  35. Jack says

    I deposited in my checking acct a check for $2900 from Survey Value Inc based in Minneapolis, MN. they asked me to buy $2500 in GooglePlay cards and keep $400. After reading your comments I’m thinking this is a scam. Am I in any trouble if I just leave everything be, or is there something I need to do to protect myself?

    • Jim Wang says

      Talk to your bank and let them know. Chances are they already are processing the check, will realize it’s bad, and take the money out. You should be OK but talk to them to clear it up.

  36. Tim C says

    Hi Jim,

    I recently received an offer from “Market Research Surveys,” but there are a few red flags. It’s a very generic name and I can’t find them from googling the name. I’m pretty sure I already gave them my address. I filled out an application a week or 2 ago and was just notified that I was approved. I was told to expect something in the mail. Is this company legit?

  37. Crystál Vaughn says

    Has anyone ever gotten something from Insights Survey services? I received a check for 2900 to buy Apple gift cards and I am thinking it’s a scam. They have a website but it’s not giving much information.

    • mstaylor522 says

      I just got something from them. $2455 check and was told to buy 4 walmart gift cards and put $500 on each and send a picture of the gift cards and receipts. I didn’t think i just deposited the check and was willing to take my $300 commission until no one answered the numbers they provide,except through text. There’s no website and the email is through icloud. so i talked to my bank and they’re going to invest everything and put my card on hold until they can fix it. the check went through but it could be days after when its realized to be fake.

    • Jim Wang says

      I’m afraid that’s too generic a name to really find out much about, do you want to email me more specifics?

      • Chris I says

        I also got selected by Insight Survey Service and after reading the comments I think I’m going to rip their stuff up seems like a scam

        • Crystal says

          It’s a scam. I was contacted by Insight Survey Services through a iCloud account stating that I was accepted and a package will be delivered via USPS. This was 12/24/2018. Ever since this day, I’ve been texted/emailed about day about delivery of this package and to send results of the survey via text and/or email. After the fourth day of not receiving said package, I started replying to the texts and emails stating NOT DELIVERED. On the 6th day, I texted NOT DELIVERED again and that this was a scam. They actually replied stating it’s not a scam and they will check the tracking information. That’s when i asked for the tracking information with no reply and the texts/emails have stopped. Just 2 days ago, i again got a text and requested a tracking number. When I got no reply within a few hours, I texted and said it’s a scam and I’m reporting them…

          Also note, their website has a mistake in the header when clicking the different menu navigation links. The header changes on the page for “How It Works” from Insight Survey Service to Green Leaf Surveys. And their website is very vague with hardly any information. Also the supposed copyright at the bottom for Sights on Service, Inc has the wrong location for this company per BBB.

          Shred anything from this company and block their numbers/email addresses. Luckily, I did not get the “package” and found this article while conducting my own research.

  38. Violeta says

    Hi Jim.
    I received an email from research unlimitedgroup telling me that I won 350.00 I feel is totally scam …

    CHECK TRANSFERRING: Thank You So Much, Violeta!!

    From: Research UnlimitedGroup [email protected]

    Reply to: Research UnlimitedGroup [email protected]

    Thank You So Much, Violeta !

    You’ve been with us long enough to have this $350.00 CHECK transferred to you! Thank you so much for your continued membership!

    Please submit an answer below and use the instructions page to accept this reward for spending. Reward is pending transfer regardless of your response.

    Have you ever been unemployed, Violeta?

    YES, I have been unemployed. NO, I have not.

    $350.00 ~ ACCEPT HERE

    Paid participation required. View website for more details.
    Postal address only. Send a letter to:
    11962 CR 101 Ste 302 #512 The Villages, FL 32162

    You are subscribed to this mailing list as *** Please click here to modify your message preferences or to unsubscribe from any future mailings. We will respect all unsubscribe requests.

    The link takes me to a blank page that says Thank you.

    Should I take this directly to spam?

    • Jim Wang says

      I think you should send this directly to spam.

      I would not send anything to that address either – it appears to be a “PO Box” (not an actual USPS PO Box but a similar service).

  39. Mary Elise Smith says

    Here is another case which happened to us, March 6, 2019:

    Accion Research

    Names associated:
    Jessica Brooks cell: 806 680 6760 sent text and signed accompanying letter
    Check signed by: Sandy Coffing
    Return Address Label: Juana Patlan

    A trusted colleague’s Linked In account was hacked and this person, Jessica , reached out to me regarding a Market Research Survey. Same set up: sent a large check via USPS Priority Mail, told to purchase gift cards, send photos after scratching off PIN, blah, blah. I am a Banker, so I recognized the scam. We called the US Postal inspector and shared the information. FYI the check is on CES Credit Union stock (obviously counterfeit). The person who signed the check is listed in Linked In as the President and CEO of CES Credit Union! Laughable. The CEO doesn’t sign bank checks! The web site goes nowhere after a few clicks.

    Be careful, these scamsters are really putting in the effort!

    • Mark says


      I Just received an email from Accion research from a guy called David Schmidt who presents himself as “Assistant Scheduler/Coordinator”. He originally contacted me through Linked in with a research group that pays $350 and then I received a cashier’s check for a little under $2,400 a few days later. To say the least it was suspicious. I feel like it’s a scam Mary’s post above confirms my gut feeling is right. In my opinion the scam takes place when you cash the check they send you and then go buy items with the money they sent. I feel like the check is going to bounce a few days later and then I’ll be out $2,400. He’s also doing this from his free gmail account which is one of the warning signs above. After I buy the gift cards he wants me to open the pack and peel the silver scratch off area on the card as well. every thing about this is suspicious. Jim am I right ?

  40. Easy Money says


    This one popped up on my Facebook feed:

    They claim to pay $100 for the EOB of any MRI, X-ray or CT scan you’ve had in the last 24 months. I’ve gone as far as to fill out the form (name, email, insurance and image type) and someone by the name of Inah Omingo is responding back to me via email now saying that I qualify. I now have to send the EOB back but I’m still suspicious. I searched the BBB for “Healthcare Cost Research Group” but no hits. Their private website doesn’t list a physical address anywhere.

    Would you mind taking a quick look? Has anyone tried this one out?

    • Jim Wang says

      I haven’t done any research on this but the website looks very basic and they’re asking for some really personal stuff.

  41. Kate Panthera says

    I tried using Survey Junkie and Vindale both. they were offering free walmart gift cards. You had to buy into one of several offers (none of which I needed or wanted) in order to complete “qualifying” for the gift card. At the end, the offer I chose never wound up qualifying me, it just led to an endless loop leading me back to the same page over and over, telling me that i had to take an offer to finish qualifying, In the end, it never allowed me to “finish” qualifying for the gift card, even though I signed up for 2 of the offers.

  42. JD says

    I just wanted to point out if you didn’t know that Global Test Market and I think MySurvey have merged with LifePointsPanel. I’ve spent the last month trying to change my password and the reset link doesn’t seem to be working at the moment so I haven’t been able to log in and it points out I have an account when I’ve tried to start a new account. Were it not for the points I already have from GTM I’d just unsubscribe and start from scratch. Anyway, just wanted to give you a heads up. Thanks for the article!

  43. Lisa Delnegro says

    Hi Mr. wang,

    YES! I was sent a big check w ” instructions” from a scam company! I would never proceed BUT who should I contact and WHAT should I do with this check?

  44. Kari says

    HI there! I received a survey from a company that sent me a cashiers checks for a large sum of money, over $2000. I’m to deposit it in my account and after it clears, purchase several named gift cards. My payment is $400, once it is all complete, this money is included in the check I received. The company I received it from is SMART Survey, LLC. I have text numbers and emails. Is this legit?

    • Jim Wang says

      I don’t know about them specifically but this pattern is similar to how much fake cashier’s check scams work.

  45. Carrie Thomas says

    I was contacted by Big Bang Recruiting. Can you tell me if they are legit? They are offering $250 to participate in a 1 day focus group. The representative who called me read off a long list of companies and individuals asking if I was employed by or related to them.

    • Jim Wang says

      They look legitimate, how did you find out about them? How did they get your information?

  46. Rachel Sokoloff says

    Recently I found a site – that asks you to listen to music for an hour and then they you will leave a synopsis of what you listened to. They say they will pay you $85 through direct deposit, paypal or a paid check. I checked out their page and it seems legit, but I am not sure. I was wondering if you could give me insight as to whether or not I should move forward with this.

    Thank you!

    • Jim Wang says

      It sounds like it’s a specific job with a client of theirs. THe site also looks legitimate to me but I don’t have any personal experience with it.

  47. Yvonne says

    I got a text from D & M research group, to be a mystery shopper for 6 weeks. For some reason it appeared legitimate to me, so I filled out the application. I was selected, given a ID number, and now I realize I should have checked for legitimate companie. I gave my address, phone no., can’t remember all information on the page, but I filled it out.
    Don’t know who I gave it to really.

  48. Wee Cheng says

    Hi Jim:
    When I do a survey, can I choose if I want to be rewarded by PayPal, gift card, etc. ? Or is it up to the company to decide? How often do they send surveys to people? Thank you.


    • Jim Wang says

      Usually, you get to pick. Almost all of them offer Amazon gift cards but some will do PayPal.

  49. Donaa Thomas says

    is comforter survey services legit . i received an email from a job recruiter from my school Youngstown state university . the only red flag on the website i see is that they ask for addres. Reading this article you said they shouldn’t ask for that. They ask for names, birthdate, address and email. they do not ask for money

  50. Bonnie says

    I just got a text from McGuire Research to participate in a survey and receive a $7.50 Amazon gift card. Do you know anything about them?

    • Jim Wang says

      Was it out of the blue or did you sign up for it?

      I don’t know anything about them specifically but it seems like a low risk to do a survey as long as it doesn’t require personally identifiable information.

  51. Linda Quinn says

    I received information through linked in for a company called Summit MarketSurvey Research. The sent me my first assignment. They are going to send me a check for $1870.55. they are asking me to keep $350.00 for my commission and once the check clears to buy three different gift cards from stores on a list. Once I purchase the gift cards they are asking me to fill out a survey for each store and send them a picture of the card. They are then asking me to hold onto the cards for my next assignment. I am hoping that because they contacted me through linked in they are ligit, but I am not sure. The email I have to send everything back is [email protected] and the mailing address is Summit MKT Survey Services, PO Box 515218, Los Angeles, CA 90051. Please let me know if you think this is legitimate or not. I was going to open a separate bank account to deposit the check if it is, I appreciate your opinion.

    • Jim Wang says

      I don’t know anything about this company specifically but this sounds like a classic fake cashiers check scam.

  52. Matthew Padgett says

    Hello! I have a question about Simmons National Survey. Are they legitimate? I couldn’t anything that would indicate that it is a scam but I just wondered. They sent us $5 in the mail to complete the first survey and sent us $10 for completing it. Then sent us two booklets, one for me and one for my wife with $10 for each of us. If we complete these booklets by February 21st they said they will send us $50 for each booklet. The booklet is 135 pages long. Do you know anything about them?

  53. viki says

    A few days I was sent an email asking to fill out a survey that was consistent with my field of work. They offered to pay me $150. A few days later a digital card came that sent me to a digital wallet when I tried to activate the card. Before it would let me, they wanted me to fill out a W9….complete with social security number.
    This feels like a bad idea.

    • Jim Wang says

      I agree – this seems like a bad idea. They are only required to do that if they pay you $600 or more – and companies do not want to collect information they don’t need. It adds a step plus it’s a security risk for them (if they are legitimate).

  54. Christie Odland says

    Hi Jim,
    Thank you for all of the information you are so generously sharing. I received an email today from
    research, Ion with the P&G logo. Here is the email:

    “Hello Participant,
    We would like to invite you to a paid research opportunity! This opportunity is Remotely and will take 60 minute(s) minutes of your time. Once completed, we will pay you $125.00.

    Here is a summary of the study:

    We are a large consumer products company and we want to learn more about how you wet clean your floors. We want to understand the steps you take, anything you like or dislike about the process and suggestions for improvement. We may also want you to try a product and provide feedback!

    Does this sound like something you would be interested in? If so, click the following link to get started:

    Seeking people who clean their floors! [link]”

    At the bottom of the email is this information:
    “This email was sent to: [my email] on behalf of Ion research through Respondent, Inc.
    You are receiving this email because this researcher thinks you may qualify for a research study.

    Respondent, Inc [link] provides researchers with tools to recruit, schedule, pay and communicate professionally with respondents. If you feel that this researcher might be violating our terms of service please contact support. [link] unsubscribe [link]”

    I have done surveys for P&G before, I’m on their mailing list, and have been expecting an email from them. Do you think this is legitimate?

    • Jim Wang says

      I believe it is legitimate because I’m familiar with and they’re a real company.

  55. Catherine Dorney Bron says

    I received and still have a letter and cashiers check for $1,800 from Ambivista. When I refused to deposit the check because of these scams I was threatened threw email the man was contact the FBI and local police to have me arrested for something I can’t remember what he said. Because he was pushing me to deposit ASAP and get the money ASAP. After I told him I believed was a scam so was gonna give to my bank but ask them to hold for 14 business days usually the amount of time needed to come back to bank as fake money order. At this point he wanted me to return the money order and everything included. I wanted a name to have send back to him so he would have to show ID and sign for it. After that he started threatening me etc. I still have everything even half of the priority envelope used from the post office. What I want to know is there agency that will follow three and go after this fake company and hold them liable and responsible for their fraud network. The money order actually is sent from ( Arlington Charities, Inc , 811 Secretary Drive, Arlington, Texas 76015-1626) Can you help me with this I would like to see someone held responsible. Thank You

    • Jim Wang says

      I wouldn’t talk to the person at all and just send the entire thing to the USPS or FBI. Don’t risk that person doing something crazy.

  56. Rebecca says

    Boy do I have a list for you.!! I have recently been the guinea pig as well on survey sites. Mind you my father is a Professional Computer Systems Analyst for the D.O.D and I have been well educated by dear old Dad on safeguards so like you said I really not a good idea for just anyone to go signing up for survey sites unknown… Stick to three rules I never very from and you can keep relatively safe (mind you nothing out there is 100% safe, it’s the internet…lol) So number 1 never sign up for anything unless you have googled the said site and can varify the site by more than 2 sources ( even scammers can put something up in a search engine to verify themselves, but 2 is the limit before they draw attention to themselves). Number 2 NO credit card or bank information.! I don’t know about you guys but there is no shortage of survey sites with great payouts you should never have to give out your bank or credit card information, ever! . Number 3 question everything and rush nothing! I know the last bit seems vage but it’s not. Almost all scams sent through emails or even sites you happen upon are designed with key words to distract you and get you to click on them without thought like, “Start Now”, “See Your Winnings Here”, “Obtain your prize Here”. All designed to get you to click on these without thought, alot of times has malware or spyware in the link. Think it through most of the time yes it’s to good to be Then they try to get you with the rush of a time constraint like you must act fast or this offer expires in like 2 minutes. Next thing ya know instead of receiving anything you find yourself on that notorious page where they just need your credit card information for the shipping “really” they’ve almost gotten me that way…I’m ashamed to say. I mean because let’s face it most of us are not thinking things through when we are rushing 😜. So there’s the three rules Daddy would be so proud his 41year old daughter has helped pass along the hard earned education he so carefully ingrained into me…lol. Way off topic that I went and I thank you Jim for letting me ramble…lol. I do have a list of survey sites I tried and quit and the ones I kept because they not only pay well but don’t waste my time with excessive emails. My goodness I’m sorry…lol

  57. Kay says

    I got an email from, inviting me to participate in an online focus group. The reward is $100 for a 90 minute focus group. They have a website, and a FB page. It seems legit. The one thing I’m not sure about is that I’ve never heard of this company, and haven’t given them my information before, to my knowledge. What do you think?

    • Jim Wang says

      Is it possible that you signed up for a focus group and were referred to them by that group?

      They appear legitimate to my brief research but I would call the number listed on their website and confirm it’s from them. A lot of scammers will use a real company’s information to try to scam folks (usually to give up personal information, they won’t have you participate in a real focus group) so you have to always watch out for that.

  58. Tamara Olsen says

    Heard of or know anything about Health Care Cost Research Group? They offer to pay $50 for insurance EOB’s.

    • Jim Wang says

      I don’t know anything specific about that company but I’m always hesitant to share something like an insurance EOB. That seems like a lot of money just for a single form… and given how much information it has, seems like there’s a non-zero amount of risk there.

  59. bob says

    I responded to a text asking if I wanted to make $500 for a mystery shopping company. I received a cashiers check for $2500. The instructions accompanying this check said deposit it and after it clears buy 2 Nike gift cards for $1000. Once this is done ask for next steps. I keep the remaining $500. I know this is too easy but I’m trying to figure out how they will scam me. If I wait until the funds are legitimately available then how can they get anything from me? They don’t have any other valuable information from me. They have a seemingly legit website as well.

    • Jim Wang says

      I’m afraid it is almost certainly a scam. If you wait, and you’ll have to wait a few weeks to be 100% sure, I suppose nothing bad could happen. Your bank may not be happy.

  60. Sam says

    Good morning, Jim,

    Great article, very informative. I looked up this topic because I received the following information in an email. I’ve never received one of these before. Does it seem legit to you? Thanks so much for looking!

    Hi (my name),

    I hope this message finds you well. I’m working with a client in the market research industry, on a project in the Higher Education (Faculty/Research/Professors) space. They want to gain insights on how you use different technologies (Google, Microsoft, etc.) in your role. I came across your contact on LinkedIn, and given what I’ve read about your background, I think you have the expertise needed to be an excellent fit to advise on this project.

    Our client is fielding a quantitative survey, and we’d love to pay you for your time. You will be compensated $70 for a 18 minute survey (Visa/Mastercard, Amazon or other gift card options). The payment options will be country-specific.

    Let me know if you are interested in learning more. I can answer any questions and share the link to the survey when you’re ready.

    Your insight is valuable so I look forward to hearing from you!

    Judy Goncalves

    [email protected]

    • Jim Wang says

      Hi Sam – this looks a little suspicious for a few reasons.

      1. Their website is somewhat generic (along with their name) – usually you see people’s names, faces, their roles, etc. Something that just makes it look a little more real. This one look like a brochure with a lot of corporate-speak.
      2. The address they list on the website is for a WeWork location in NYC (54 W 40th St, New York, NY 10018). That is totally possible that they are a smaller outfit but why list a co-working space?
      3. Privacy Policy and Terms & Conditions lead nowhere.
      4. Judy Goncalves has a Linkedin profile and it says she works for Research Insights Group, so that part looks real but … the other things make me hesitant.

      I’m a little suspicious and if you decide to do it, be very wary.

      • Greg says

        I’m here as I got the exact same email from Judy Goncalves as well. I’ll keep an eye out and see if
        Sam ends up floating in a harbour before I reply.
        Thanks for looking out for us Jim!

        • Guille says

          I also received the exact same email. I’m waiting to see if someone takes a chance to see what it’s about!

      • Christie says

        I am a contract instructor at a Canadian university and got the same email. Hmmm…

  61. Jeremy Bonner says

    I was also a recipient of the Research Insights Group ‘sting’. Following Mr Wang’s advice I wrote several times to Ms Goncalves asking for more information about the company and when she ignored me to the parent body (which seems to be headquartered in Paris and only to have existed since 2018) to complain of her conduct. Answer came there none.

    Since she has a Linked-In profile, it would be nice if there were a way to complain to Linked-In about members who abuse the service in this way (curiously she appears only to be about nineteen, given that her high school graduation is reported to have occurred in 2017, perhaps another red flag).

  62. marcela grad says

    Hi Jim,

    Thank you for all the advices for finding a good survey site.

    Today I got a phone call from “Fieldwork NRC”.

    A woman called me and, when I told her I would check the site before considering working for them, she was very understanding and gave me a phone number to call if I decided to participate. I am having problems finding the site or information about it – and whether it’s legitimate or a scam.

    Do you know anything about it? I would appreciate it so much your response.

    Thankssss in advance,


    • Jim Wang says

      I don’t know anything about “Fieldwork NRC” but if you can’t find information, it’s probably not a great sign.

  63. Ben says

    Stay away from the company called One Poll. They were once legit, but are now blocking member accounts for false reasons before they reach the $65 min threshold to cash out. They are keeping money earned hostage and refuse to pay.

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