Internet Communications

Are there any dangers to taking online surveys?
Answered by HowStuffWorks
  • HowStuffWorks

    HowStuffWorks

  1. The answer, as with many things in life, is that it depends. Survey participants risk being scammed or having their identity stolen when their contact information is not stored securely by the site. Some participants may even find themselves bilked out of money when a site requires fees for access to the survey. It's best to step back and first ask: Who is giving the survey? If it sounds at all like a fly-by-night or otherwise sketchy organization, then it probably is. You'll want to think long and hard before surrendering any personal information on such a survey. Or, better yet, just steer clear entirely. Alternatively, is the survey something you might expect? For example, is the survey a follow-up by a reputable company from whom you recently purchased something online? Companies sometimes will want your help gauging the quality of the shopping experience they provided you. You're probably on safer ground in such a case, though you may still want to think about whether or not you want to open up your information to what could be an unending slew of marketing emails down the road. Such contacts bother some people more than others.

    You could take the view that companies using online surveys also face dangers, although theirs have more to do with getting useless results from participants who rush through the questions or give fraudulent information in order to qualify for a prize of some kind. However you slice it, though, online surveys are here to stay. Surveys on Web sites and through e-mail are cheap, quick feedback for businesses -- a lot cheaper than conducting regular mail or telephone surveys. And, because they can take them at their leisure, more people tend to respond to e-mail surveys than to phone calls they might consider obtrusive [source: Yahoo! Small Business]. Online surveys could even be considered a form of advertising, planting subliminal, positive suggestions about a product in a person's mind.

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