As a work-from-home mom, I understand the desire to find deals, freebies, and little ways to make extra money for the family online. I’m a frugal person and love when I can find a good deal for my family. If there is a legitimate way for me to get something for free or to make an extra buck or two, I’m all for that. As a web developer, however, I am all too aware of the dangers that some of these “deals” can bring. Unfortunately, there are those in this world looking to take advantage of innocent people.

Recently, I have been talking to many others in regards to online surveys or sweepstakes that they have signed up for. My own email inbox is constantly bombarded with emails inviting me to take surveys for cash or outlandish prizes. Some of these sites were obvious scammers (as in, I could tell within 5 seconds it was a scam), but unfortunately not everyone knows it is a fraud, and they fall victim to it. I’m not saying that every survey site or sweepstakes is a scam. Yes, there are legitimate ones out there, but, to be safe, I composed a list of Top Four Ways to Spot a Survey Scam and how you can protect yourself.

Top Four Ways to Spot a Survey Scam

(Basically, watch out for red flags)

  1. Pay to Play – Surveys that require you to pay to play are dangerous. At best, they will just pay you a dollar back for completing thousands of questions in hopes that you will get tired and give up, but many times they will just take your money and run. Worst of all, if you have given them any financial information, they can take that and charge you as much money as they want.
  2. Unsolicited Emails and Malware – If you receive emails that you have not signed up for inviting you to complete surveys in return for money or prizes, this could be scammers attempting to steal your identity. Embedded in the link to take you to the survey is malware—software that will be installed on your computer to steal your personal information in order to steal your identity. They may also ask you for this information in the survey in order to steal your identity.
  3. Privacy Policy and Dead Links – Always check for a privacy policy. This is very important! All legitimate survey companies will have a privacy policy to clearly state their use of information they receive from you. If you do not see a privacy policy, assume the site is a scam. In addition, clever scammers will show a “link” for the privacy policy. Don’t just look for a link, but also verify that the link is valid. Click this link and read the privacy policy. The same goes for “about” pages and other links. Legitimate companies do not try to hide their identities. Check all the links and confirm they actually lead somewhere other than to the “Sign up” page. Many scam sites will also pretend to be from big companies like Apple or Amazon. If this is the case, be sure to check the validity of the website first.
  4. Too Good to be True – Be wary of outlandish prize promises as well. Legitimate companies are not likely to give you outlandish rewards like a free iPhone X, $200 Amazon gift card, etc. just for filling out a survey. This is a scammers way of luring in people with over-the-top promises to gather personal information, credit card numbers, Social Security numbers, financial information, etc. No one is going to get rich filling out a survey. If this were true, everyone would be doing it and getting rich. Remember, even if you aren’t filling out this information, they may be installing malware to steal this information.

Protect yourself.

With any survey, be sure to investigate before filling out any information, including your email address. Be sure to perform internet searches to make sure this site is not a scam. One site you can trust is the Better Business Bureau (BBB), an organization that collects complaints and reviews of all types of businesses. You can search the website or survey in question on the BBB website at:

Other sites such as,, and can also be used to check the validity of a website; however, do be aware that some of the “scam checker” websites will allow companies to pay to have negative reviews removed, which can cause someone to miss a scam. is one of those sites which will allow negative reviews to be removed. It is best to check multiple websites rather than just one.

You can also install protection on your computer or browser which can detect when a website is attempting to install malware. This protection can be in the form of virus protection or a browser extension (although you will still want to investigate these also). One we use at She is… is located at


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About the Author

Melissa Steindl

Melissa is a work-from-home mom of two boys. She has a Bachelor's Degree in Graphic Design from Ouachita Baptist University. Her love for Christ influences her lifestyle and work. She loves family life, cooking, art & design, gardening, DIY projects, and natural living.