Guidelines for Participating in
Use of the
internet to conduct surveys has surged in recent years, and riding this trend
are some dishonest or fraudulent research "pretenders”. These "companies” make
empty promises of "earning high income as a survey respondent,” or worse, they
may attempt to steal your money or your personal identity.
It is important
to remember that the vast majority of online surveys are managed by legitimate
companies and that your participation in these surveys is important – and they
can also be a fun way to win prizes. The Council of American Survey Research
Organizations (CASRO) offers the following guidelines to the public in an
effort to help you recognize a legitimate and professional online survey and
thereby avoid the potential risk to your money and your privacy from dishonest
Research Companies Will:
- Have contact
information on their website, and a representative available to answer
- Limit the
number of surveys you can take
participants to answer screening questions to see if they meet demographic
requirements needed for their research sample
- Value the time
you take to complete a survey by offering modest incentives and "thank yous”
such as sweepstakes entries, coupons or a nominal monetary reward. Remember, if
the incentive seems too good to be true - it probably is.
affiliate themselves with a trade group. (Most associations require members to
meet certain ethical standards)
- Have accessible
- Honor your
request to discontinue sending e-mail invitations for surveys or to remove you
from their online research panel
- Request credit
card or bank account information or your Social Security number
- Try to sell or
promote a product
- Request payment
- Try to recruit
you with a one-question survey (e.g., "What’s your favorite color?”) in a
pop-up ad or unsolicited e-mail
- Contact or seek
personal information from any child under the age of 13 without a parent’s
prior, verifiable consent
Read the terms
This document should explain how you're earning the free product or monetary
award.You may think that you will receive prize or award by simply
completing a survey, while in fact that may merely register youin a
drawing to win the item. Know what is expected of you in order to earn the
incentive – How long is the survey you are required to complete? Is it in
several parts over a protracted period of time? Do you need to refer friends?
It also may contain red flags, like the company retains the right to spam you
through telemarketing and e-mail solicitations or sell your personal
information to third parties.
Join a legitimate
online research panel: Many CASRO
members operate research panels that you can join. By doing so, you can
participate in online research without having to answer e-mail or pop-up
invitations from someone you don’t know and ensure that you are always dealing
with a reputable research company that will honor its obligation to give you a
promised incentive, will not abuse your personal information and will not try
to sell you anything.
Learn about the
research company: Review their website.
Type the name of the company/website and the word "scam" into an
internet search and see if complaints or articles turn up. You can also obtain
a reliability report on the company from the Better Business Bureau.
If you are typing
in personally identifiable information on a web page: Be sure it is secure by looking for the
"https" designator in the URL (web address).
If you decide to
cancel your membership with a site:
Ask that they delete your personal information and take you off their marketing
If you feel you
have been a victim of fraud: First,
complain to the company. If that doesn’t help, you can log a complaint with any
of a number of organizations, including the Federal Trade Commission, Better
Business Bureau, Internet Crime Complaint Center, or your state’s attorney
general's office. If the company indicates membership in a trade group, contact
CASRO members are
required to abide by a strict Code of Standards. For a list of member
companies, click here.
determine that an internet survey is being conducted by a professional and
legitimate research company – please participate! Your opinions are essential
in the important process of market research.