This article is the second in our series of in-depth discussions regarding free paid surveys.
If you missed the first article, you might want to go back and read Free Paid Surveys – are they legit? before reading this article.
Any time you do anything online that involves revealing personal information you need to be smart about to whom and how you give it. In general, most paid survey sites are going to ask you for your name, address, birthday, and occasionally your phone number. They will also ask some demographic information such as your marital status, education level, profession, number of children, and maybe more, depending upon the type of panel you are applying for.
The demographic information is necessary to help them identify whom to send particular surveys to. A survey company doesn’t just send out each survey to all of their members and let the survey itself screen them out. They use the demographic information to select a pool of potential survey qualifiers and then send the survey only to those people. They design certain surveys for specific audiences, for instance, a survey about diapers is not likely to be sent to a single male in his 20’s. That doesn’t mean you will qualify for every survey sent to you, just that you meet the basic demographic requirements.
The real personal information such as your name and address is not used within the surveys themselves, but only as a way to define your membership with the company that administers the surveys, mainly so you can get paid. The company or manufacturer who paid for the survey to be administered never sees your personal info.
As I mentioned in the first article in this series, there are many legitimate paid survey companies out there but that doesn’t mean you don’t need to protect your identity when sharing your personal info with them, especially over the web. In general, if you are listed in the phone book, sharing your name and address really isn’t much different, especially since the phone books can now be accessed online.
If you have any doubts or fears about sharing your info, the following are some tips to help protect yourself:
- Research the survey company before you sign up for it. You can do this by visiting any forums related to surveys and seeing what people are talking about and by visiting Survey Police, a great resource to help identify possible scams. Also, here at “What’s That Smell? about 99% of the sites we list, we have positive experiences with. The other roughly 1% are new to us so we don’t have any experience with them yet but wanted to share them with you anyway.
- Go to the post office and get a P.O. Box to use for registering for survey companies. Keep in mind that those that will send product tests will not ship to a P.O. Box so they will require your physical address. A P.O. Box runs roughly $50 for the year depending upon where you live.
- Do not give out your actual birthdate. I’m not suggesting deception, but your actual birthdate is not as important demographically as your actual age. I am not at all comfortable with the possibilities for identity theft that arise with someone having my actual birthday so I essentially have a second birthday. The year is the same which is what matters for the survey data.
- If the company only requires (usually they * the boxes they require for sign-up) your name and email address, only give them your name and email address. Don’t give them more than they ask for. Companies that pay via Paypal or Amazon.com gift certificates don’t need your actual address, so they may not ask.
- If it seems shady, go with your gut. Better safe than sorry. You can always visit a forum like the one at the Survey Police site and simply ask others for their opinion.
In general, if you are smart about what companies you sign up for, you should not have any problems related to sharing your personal information. The real issues arise when you stop doing the research necessary to ensure the site is not a scam simply because you are excited by a promise to earn a $500 gift card or $75/hr doing surveys.
Take your time, pay attention, do the research, and be patient. The surveys will come eventually, but it’s better that you don’t have to deal with spam, or worse, crime because you tried to do too much too fast. It’s exciting when you start seeing a few dollars here, a gift certificate there and you will want to go and sign up for as many as possible all at once, but heed my warning: there are a lot of companies out there masquerading as paid survey companies that are nothing more than affiliate marketers taking it to a new level. More on that next week…..
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Next week: Free Paid Surveys – how / where do I find them?