Top tips for avoiding scams and how to spot an authentic survey

Kevin Fountain
Top tips for avoiding scams and how to spot an authentic survey

In today’s world, [it’s sad but true that] we all have to be alert to the possibility of online fraud.

There are dodgy people out there who try to get money by pretending to be a real market research company. As with lots of scams, the fraudsters may copy logos/branding and contact unsuspecting people by letter, email or social media.

If an offer of participating in research looks too good to be true, it probably is

Unfortunately, we know that occasionally Hall & Partners has been imitated in this way, so we wanted to offer a few simple tips to make sure you don’t get caught out by a fraudulent survey.

As a general rule of thumb, if an offer of participating in research looks too good to be true, it probably is.

Getting paid for surveys

Authentic surveys do sometimes offer incentives (e.g. $/£10 Amazon gift card) but this is always in line with MRS or ESOMAR guidelines. However, be wary of the following, as these are things that authentic surveys will NEVER do regarding financial incentives:

  • promise you can make a large amount of money through a job as a participant
  • send you a payment in the form of a cheque before completing an assignment. These cheques may be fake, and you could incur bank charges. Hall & Partners never pays respondents in advance of an assignment.
  • ask you to pay an application fee to be a respondent. Genuine firms never ask for money from a participant see the Mystery Shopping Providers Association (MSPA).
  • ask you to wire money anywhere, deposit a cheque or send cash

Do your research

If – for example – a ‘Dr Richard Gandon’ is offering you large sums of money to complete assignments for a research company he represents, do some background checks:

Do they have a LinkedIn profile? Are they connected with other employees of the company?

Company website

Is their email address consistent with the company’s website domain?

A company’s website domain will appear in the email address. For example, our website domain is so our emails are always in the form of not, for example,

Other things to be aware of

Here are some more details that should set alarm bells ringing:

  • If the person contacting you has an Aol, Gmail or similar non-corporate email address, then it’s not from a legitimate company.
  • Remember, if the email is from a real person employed by Hall & Partners, our domain name will appear after the @ – not before.

If you wish to check the legitimacy of one of our survey invitations, you can always contact We’re happy to help and want our participants to be confident that they’re taking part in a genuine survey.

We hope these few simple tips are reassuring – and that you enjoy contributing to the success of some of the world’s biggest brands through market research.

If you want to find out more about mystery shopping, the Federal Trade Commission provides some useful guidelines.