A lot of people have been asking me recently if paid survey sites and get paid to (GPT) sites are legit. And it's a fair question.
When you first hear of sites and apps that pay you for completing simple tasks (like surveys), it seems way too good to be true.
Here's the thing:
There are legitimate paid surveys and GPT sites out there, but there are a fair share of scams too.
Luckily, if you know what to look for, the scams can be avoided easily. This guide is going to show you:
- Examples of GPT scams and how they work
- How you can differentiate scam sites from legit paid opportunities; and
- How to protect your privacy once you find a few GPT sites you like
But first, some refreshers:
What are Survey Sites?
Survey sites are basically just the middlemen between survey takers and paid surveys. They help companies conduct market research, and they help others earn money for sharing their thoughts.
Legit paid survey sites exist because brands are willing to pay money in order to learn more about how consumers perceive their products and services.
What are GPT Sites?
Get-Paid-To (GPT) sites, just as they may sound, are any sites or apps that offer money or other rewards in exchange for completing simple tasks.
The most commonly known and popular get paid to sites typically offer multiple ways to earn (e.g. watching videos, filling surveys, searching the web, etc.).
However, GPT sites can also be more specific. For example:
These are all quite unique and particular, but I'd still classify them as GPT.
Legit GPT sites exist for similar reasons to survey sites. Essentially, if a site or app is willing to pay you to do something, it's safe to assume that they're also making money in some way, whether it's by selling advertising space, opinions, leads, or something else.
Why Online Survey Scams and GPT Scams Exist
Online survey scams and other GPT scams come in many different shapes and sizes, but they all typically have the same end goal:
To make money.
Due to how they work, their ease of entry, and their popularity in the make money online space, survey sites and GPT sites are popular playing grounds for scammers.
Keep in mind that while it can seem easy to avoid these scams, that's not always the case.
Most scammers aren't stupid.
The ones who have been scamming for a while are constantly changing tactics and making their scams look more real.
However, most scammers are lazy.
Because of this, there are almost always noticeable signs of a scam. Being able to recognize these signs starts with understanding how most GPT scams and survey scams work:
How Common GPT Scams Work
Most survey scams and GPT scams look and work similarly to their legitimate counterparts, with a few key differences.
Here are five examples:
1. Get Rich Quick Scams
This is typically how all survey scams start out. They rope people in by claiming crazy earning opportunities.
Legitimate GPT sites would never promise such crazy earning potentials because it just isn't realistic.
So what's the catch?
The catch is that these get rich quick scam sites will never actually end up paying out. They essentially just get you to do free work.
After people start to catch on that the site is a scam, the scammer will take the money they've earned, sell any data they might have gained (like email addresses), and run.
Many times they'll go on to start another similar site to repeat the process.
2. Sensitive Data Scams
This type of GPT scam may use the same tactics detailed above, but rather than just ask for demographic information (like a legit site would), they'll take things a step further by asking for extremely sensitive information.
This could include things like your:
- Social insurance number
- Driver's license number
- Bank numbers
- Credit card details
- And more
The scammers will usually try to get this info from you right as you sign up, or soon after.
After acquiring this data, they'll either sell it to someone else for a quick profit or they'll use the data directly to make money. They could do this by hacking your accounts and stealing money directly, committing identity fraud, or something else.
3. Virus Scams
Another reason a GPT scam might exist is to get access to your computer.
With software downloads, someone could install a keylogger or other malware on your device, and then they could gain access to tons of private information (like passwords) without even having to ask for it.
These scams are a bit harder to spot as even some legitimate GPT sites require software downloads to work. For example, some paid user testing sites require you to download screen recording software.
To be sure you're not downloading anything dangerous, you need to first be sure to site you're on is legitimate. And that's precisely why this guide exists.
4. Pay to Play Scams
These ones are easy to spot and you should always avoid them. Any survey site or GPT site that wants you to pay a “membership fee” to sign up is just trying to make a quick buck off of you.
Even if they're a legit site, they're most likely offering surveys and other paid tasks that you can find for free elsewhere.
5. The Fake Check Scam
This is more of a classic work from home scam. Here's how it works:
The scammer sends you a check and tells you to cash it and then send part of the money back. Later on, the check bounces and you lose the money you sent to the scammer. Avoid these schemes like the plague.
How to Tell If a Survey Site or GPT Site is Legit or a Scam
Below are some things you can do/look for to determine whether a GPT site is legit or a scam.
Tip: Use this search feature to see if I've already reviewed the site you're suspicious of:
If I have already reviewed it, you can read the review for a quick verdict on whether it's legit or not. If not, keep on reading and investigate it on your own!
Step 1. Do a Quick Scan for Obvious Red Flags
With this step, you're looking for obvious signs of suspicion.
Start with the homepage, then check other pages on the site (e.g. FAQ, How it Works, About us, Register, etc.)
As you browse, look for red flags like:
- No SSL certificate – I've never seen a legit site without an SSL certificate. Check the address bar and make sure it starts with https:// rather than just http://.
- Grammar and spelling mistakes – Small mistakes here and there might be fine, but if a site is littered with obvious spelling and grammar errors, it's probably a scam.
- Membership fees – If a site is asking you to pay a membership fee in order to sign up, it's DEFINITELY a scam.
- Ridiculous earnings claims – Survey sites and GPT sites are NEVER going to be able to replace your full-time job income. That's a fact. Any sites claiming otherwise are scams.
- Crazy sign up bonuses – Any site offering more than $15 just for signing up is probably a scam. $10 is the highest I've ever seen from a legit site.
- Vagueness – A GPT site should be open about how you can earn money and how and when you can cash those earnings out. If a site is extremely vague, that's suspicious.
- Super high minimum payout – Many scam sites will set unattainable payout thresholds to slow people down. That way they can scam more users. If the minimum payout is $50+, that's suspicious.
- Anything else strange or inconsistent – If a site has anything else that feels off to you, trust your gut feeling.
Often times, this single step can help you identify a scam quite quickly.
I'll be using MoneyGuru.co as my scam example for this post. It's a GPT site that does a pretty good job at trying to convince users that it's legit.
Here are a few things it does right:
- Free to sign up
- States how you can earn money
- Has a valid SSL certificate
All good signs, right?
Well, not so fast. There are some obvious red flags if you look a bit closer:
- Obvious Grammar Mistakes – “Best way to start earn money online” and “How does MoneyGuru works?” were just two of the most obvious mistakes here, but there were more littered throughout the home page.
- Crazy Earnings Claims – In one area, Money Guru claims you can “earn more than in your real life job” and then in the testimonial at the bottom, it says the user “Earned more than $97 000 with MoneyGuru.” Ya right!
- Vague payment details – They claim you can get paid via Paypal, CashApp, and Bitcoin, but they don't mention payment schedules or minimum payout amounts. They just say “cash out when you need it most” which is very vague.
- Clearly Fake Sponsors – Tell me why Epic Games, Amazon, Red Bull, and any of those other companies would sponsor a GPT site. Even legit GPT sites don't have sponsors like that.
- Fake Looking Testimonial – If a user submits a testimonial to a site, are they really going to submit such a high quality photo? Nope. Further inspection shows that it's a stock photo, which makes it clear the testimonial is fake.
At this point, I've only looked at the home page and I'd already nope out of this site ASAP. But, for educational purposes, let's continue on.
Step 2. See When the Site Was Founded
The older a site, the more trustworthy it is. Scam sites typically don’t last for long.
To figure out when a site was founded:
- Google it – For example, when you search “When was Swagbucks founded” the search returns 2008.
- Browse around – Look at the homepage, about page, testimonials page, FAQ page, or similar. These pages will sometimes mention the date the site launched.
- Look at the footer – Many sites list their copyright date near the bottom of every page (e.g. “© 2000 – 2020 InboxDollars®” shows us that the site launched in 2000).
- Check Who.is – Enter the domain and look at the “Registered on” date under “Important Dates”. This isn't always the exact launch date of the site, but it's usually close.
Now, of course, just because a site is new doesn't mean it's a scam. Every site was new at one point. Similarly, just because a site is older doesn't mean it's legit.
So why does this step matter?
Well, personally I just prefer to stick with older, tried and true sites, just to be safe. (I'll share some legit sites at the end of this post.)
Also, looking at when a site was founded can uncover some other red flags (check the example below to see what I mean).
When I run MoneyGuru.co through Who.is I can see it was registered on 2020-06-25:
It's so new that I would choose to avoid it based on this fact alone.
But, that's not all:
Remember how MoneyGuru's homepage said they've paid out over $44 million since inception? I'm writing this in October of 2020, so how is that possible if the site is only a few months old?
Step 3. Read the Terms
Remember: If you can't find a terms page, the site is probably a scam. Legit sites are legally required to list their terms and conditions.
Still, even if you CAN find a terms page, that doesn't mean the site is instantly legit. Read through the terms to look for weird things and inconsistencies.
With a quick skim, I spotted some obvious problems on MoneyGuru's terms page .
Starting from the top:
Here's another similar inconsistency:
They mention the date July 1, 2016 here, and also their other “rewards programs” which are nowhere to be found. Doesn't make much sense.
Finally, here's the grand finale:
As you can see, according to MoneyGuru's terms, to be eligible to use the site you must be 99 years of age or older. That's one exclusive site!
This probably gives MoneyGuru free reign to not pay users as anyone under the age of 99 is technically violating their terms according to this rule. So wacky.
Once again, it's even more obvious now that this site is a scam.
But, remember what I said:
Scammers get lazy. Use this against them.
Well, that's exactly what MoneyGuru did. Here's how I know:
Step 5. Find the Company That Owns the Site
Any legitimate survey site should be owned by a real registered company.
Scam sites on the other hand typically aren’t going to register an actual company as that would cost them money, take time, and require them to put their real identity out there.
- If you can't, that's a red flag.
- If you can, Google it and see what comes up. Can you find a BBB page? LinkedIn? Anything that points to it being a legit company? If not, that's also a red flag.
If you know where the business is claiming to be located/registered, you can also try looking it up in a government database/business registry, but this isn't always possible (or free).
MoneyGuru BV is the listed company name for MoneyGuru.co, but this doesn't tell us much. Googling it just brings up reviews for the site.
However, MoneyGuru lists a Chamber of Commerce number in their footer. Looking this number up on The Netherlands Chamber of Commerce brings up an entirely different company called The Next Web BV:
The funny thing is, the address is for The Next Web is very similar to the one MoneyGuru lists as well. Also, when I searched for “MoneyGuru” in the same search, nothing came up.
As far as I can tell, The Next Web BV is in no way affiliated with MoneyGuru either, so why are they using their Chamber of Commerce number and address?
They're a scam! It's pretty clear at this point that MoneyGuru BV isn't a real registered company.
Step 6. Look for a Business Address
After you find a business name, check for an address too.
If you can't find one, that's a red flag. However, there are some legitimate sites that don't list this info (e.g. Treasure Trooper) so it's not a deal breaker.
If you can find a real business address, Google it and see what comes up. Also, check the site for other address mentions.
Some scam sites will put an address just to look more legit, so look for things like:
- Is the address valid? If not, that's a red flag.
- Is another business claiming to have the same address? That's another a red flag.
- Does it match up? If an address is listed on the contact page and privacy page, do they match up? If they don't, that's red flag #3, but look up the second address to be sure.
As you can see from the image above, under “Contact us” they list that they're in Melbourne, Australia.
In the footer of the site, they list an address in the Netherlands.
That's already very weird.
Even weirder is that when I search the Netherlands address, a different company comes up. Big red flag.
But wait, there's more:
When I searched that one up, a few different .co sites popped up, including one called CashGem.co:
Looks familiar, eh? Remember how I said scammers will create multiple similar scam sites so they can easily abandon one when the time is right?
That's exactly what's happening here.
One of the sites I tried to check was already shut down, which shows me these scammers have been at it for a bit.
Step 7. Look for Contact Details
In this step, look for something like an email address or a phone number. You'll typically find this on a contact page, support, privacy, T&C, or similar.
If a survey/GPT site doesn't list any of these easy contact methods, that’s a red flag and the site is probably a scam.
If they DO list contact details, here's what to check next:
- Is the email free or paid? Free emails end in things like @gmail.com, @yahoo.com, @outlook.com, etc. Paid emails end in the domain name of the site (e.g. @swiftsalary.com). If a site is using a free email, that's a red flag.
- If it's a phone number, Google it. See if the number is real and if it pops up on any other pages. Scam sites will sometimes make up numbers or just use a random number they found online.
Next, to really test things out, reach out to the email/phone number listed and ask any questions you can think of.
Here are some ideas on what you could ask:
- Who's the company behind this site?
- Where are company headquarters located?
- Is this site really legit? How can I earn money with it?
- How much do I need to earn to cash out?
- How and when are payments sent?; etc.
Then, wait and see if you get a real, helpful response.
Most legitimate sites should be more than willing to answer your questions. This is also an awesome way to gauge how good a sites customer service is.
I reached out to MoneyGuru's support email address and said this:
I found your site MoneyGuru and I'm pretty intrigued by it. I've been looking for ways to make extra money and this looks like a good opportunity. But how do I know it's legit and not a scam?
Sorry just have to be cautious these days. Appreciate any help! Thanks.
Pretty simple stuff. Five days later, they responded with:
Not sure on the nature of your concern/question but yeah, our company is legit, it's incorporated in Netherlands with offices in the US also. We are operating in this market for more than 12 years now.
12 years? Maybe operating as scammers for 12 years.
Anyway, I followed it up with this:
Oh okay, how come your terms page says you have to be 99 years of age or older to use the site? The testimonials you have look like they come from people who are younger, so I'm a bit confused.
Easy enough to understand, right?
Well, apparently not. Here's the response:
Could you explain me in detail, I did not understand your question well.
I'm honestly surprised I even got a single response, but this was the last one. I followed up with the same question and it seems I'm being ignored now.
Step 8. Check Their Social Media
Most legit GPT sites will have social media accounts to announce new features and other news.
Check if the site you’re on has an account on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. and see how often they post and what type of engagement they get.
If they’re not on social media at all, that could be a red flag.
If they are on social media but they have a ton of negative comments, that's another red flag.
Warning: Some scammers will pay for followers and fake comments to make their site look better than it is, so watch out for that and don't rely on this step entirely.
MoneyGuru only links to an Instagram account on their site. Checking one of their posts, I quickly noticed many complaints claiming they couldn't get paid:
The only other comments on the post were referral links, which just looked weird.
Also, the account has 10.5k followers with only 2 posts. Those followers could be real, but seeing how new the site is, there's a good chance they're fake.
Step 9. Read Reviews From Real Users
Searching for reviews online is one of the best ways to avoid scams. Just make sure you're looking at reviews from trusted, third-party, unbiased sources.
For every site I review on Swift Salary, I look at places like Trustpilot, Sitejabber, Reddit, and SurveyPolice.
Here are some things I look for:
- Review count – If it's really hard to find reviews on a particular site, that's a red flag. Even if it isn't a scam, there's no data on it to tell you whether or not it's worth your time.
- Review ratings – If a sites reviews are 90%+ negative, it's probably a scam, or it's just a really bad site.
As you read reviews, see what users are complaining about, and how/if the owner of the site is responding.
Note: Every GPT site and survey site will have some negative reviews. That's inevitable. As long as there are a healthy number of positive reviews in the mix, it's safe to assume the site is legit.
Here's how MoneyGuru's Trustpilot page looks:
As you can see, there are only two reviews, with one reviewer calling the site a “big scam” and the other questioning it's legitimacy.
Step 10. Try Signing Up
At this point, you should be pretty positive on whether the survey site or GPT site you're looking at is a scam or not.
If you still think the site is legit, try signing up.
During and after sign up, you want to see what information the site is asking for in order for you to create an account.
At most, sites will need:
- A name
- Email address; and
Before payment, some sites may also need payment info (e.g. PayPal email), a street address (for checks), and phone number (for ID confirmation). Still, no sites should need these right away.
If a survey site or GPT site is asking for information like credit card numbers, your SSN/SIN, and anything else out of the ordinary during or immediately after sign up, it's a scam.
I'm already 100% positive that MoneyGuru is a scam but let's do this step just for fun.
Here's the sign up page:
As you can see, it's not breaking any rules here (other than having those fake cash out notifications).
That's why it's important to go through the previous 9 steps BEFORE even thinking about signing up to a site. Last thing you want to do is give your email to a scam site.
I signed up for MoneyGuru for fun (with a fake email of course) and found so many other red flags:
- $100 payout minimum
- A fake chatbox
- Fake earnings leaderboards
- A pay to click referral program (if a site says you can earn $0.05+ by getting people to CLICK a referral link, it's a scam); and
- To top it all off they REALLY wanted me to add my payment information as soon as possible…wonder why.
Remember: We knew this site was a scam from Step 1. In the end, trust your gut. If something seems off or sounds too good to be true, run far far away!
Another GPT Scam Example
Let's go over everything one more time. I want to make sure you can easily spot scam sites just in case you ever come across one.
For this example, I'll be using a site that a reader emailed me a while back. It's a PTC (paid-to-click) site and I could tell almost instantly that it was sketchy.
Here's the homepage:
As you can see, at first glance without even scrolling, you can already spot some problems:
- No SSL certificate – Without a secure connection to the site, any info you enter is unencrypted and visible to hackers.
- Grammar problems – “Welcome to paid advertising viewing system!” doesn't really make sense, neither does “…offers you to earn money on viewing ad units and attracting referrals.”
- Crazy income claims – This is the biggest red flag. “Your earnings are practically unlimited. Working 3-5 hours a day you can earn $50 to $300 or more.” What a load of garbage. There's no PTC site or GPT site in the world that would pay that much. Also, I love the little header image they have of a Ferrari with the “Want one of these?” text. That's the icing on the cake.
But wait, we're not done!
Further inspection shows even more problems:
- Fake support page – Their “Support” link just goes to an extremely fake looking chatbox page. I mean c'mon, one of the questions on there is “Yesterday, I got $3980 instead of $4000 transferred to the PayPal account. What is the matter? Thank you.” HA! Also, it's impossible to actually ask a question unless you're a registered user, and there's no actual support email, both huge red flags.
As you can see, most of the time recognizing scams can be done in 5 minutes or less.
As I said, a lot of scammers are lazy and they prey on the less technically inclined. Using the tips and techniques above will save you from most survey scams and GPT scams.
Why Legit GPT Sites Sometimes Get Called Scams
Remember how I said even legit GPT sites will sometimes get negative reviews? Here's why:
No single site is perfect.
Mistakes happen, technical bugs happen, and sometimes offers don't credit, people don't get paid, or accounts get frozen.
If that happens to you, it doesn't necessarily mean the site was intentionally trying to scam you.
Many survey sites have rules and if you go against those rules (by accident or not), you may forfeit your earnings and your account privileges. Here are some common reasons this might happen:
- Having too many accounts – Most legitimate survey sites only permit one account per user, or even one account per household.
- Using a VPN – Many sites flag VPNs as fraudulent. While they're great tools for everyday browsing, I’d avoid using them on GPT sites.
- Going through surveys too quickly or answering dishonestly – Speeding through paid surveys or trying to cheat GPT offers in any way is just asking to get banned. Use the site as it was intended to be used.
Keep in mind, sometimes issues arise by accident too.
If you get banned from a legit site for no apparent reason, reach out to their support team (nicely and calmly) and explain your problem in detail. Be patient and things should get worked out.
Where to Find Legit Survey Sites & GPT Sites
Speaking of legit sites, I do my best to fully research any GPT sites that I post on Swift Salary, so hopefully you can trust my suggestions.
Check out these articles for the best GPT site, ideas, and information:
- Top Free Online Survey Sites That Pay Cash – Includes additional information and earning tips.
- Best GPT Sites and Apps – Includes tips and frequently asked questions.
- Sites That Will Pay You to Test Websites and Apps – Not extremely consistent work, but high paying.
Legit Does Not Always Mean Safe
When it comes to privacy, it’s important to do your due diligence with ANY site you use online, even the legit ones.
Take Facebook as an example:
It's used by people all over the world, but does that mean it’s safe to use?
Just because it has some safety concerns though, that doesn’t stop people from using it. Heck, I still use Facebook myself, but I'm more careful of how I use it.
And that's the key:
If you care about protecting your privacy, you need to take things into your own hands.
Use These Safety Tips to Protect Yourself
- Create a separate email – This will help keep spam and marketing messages away from your primary inbox. It'll also keep your surveys organized and in one place which can help increase your earnings.
- Never use the same password twice – That way if a site gets hacked and your password is leaked, your other accounts will still be safe. Use a password manager like NordPass or LastPass for this.
- Get Malwarebytes – This is an anti-malware software that will protect your PC. Use it alongside an antivirus like Windows Defender. Learn more here.
- Browse privately – Using your browsers incognito or private mode while filling surveys allows you to go untracked between sessions.
Tips to Increase Your Earnings
Speaking of tips, here are a few more — this time to help you increase your GPT and paid survey earnings:
- Track – Using a spreadsheet to track your GPT earnings will help you see which sites are working best for you.
- Experiment – GPT sites work differently depending on your location, demographics, day of the week, time of day, and more. To optimize your earnings, be sure to test new sites and offers, and experiment with your timing (e.g. filling surveys in the AM vs. PM).
- Network – Talking with other survey takers and GPT users is another good way to learn new tactics and find paying offers. Try r/beermoney for this.
Legit paid surveys and GPT sites are out there, but there are a fair share of scams as well.
To avoid wasting your time or giving your data to unscrupulous people, follow the steps above to spot scams, and stick with the legit, tried and true sites like the ones I listed above.
Still can't tell if a survey site or GPT site is legit or not? Comment the site below and I'll look into it.
- How to Recognize a Fake Online Survey Website – SurveyPolice.com
- How to Tell If a Survey Company is a Scam or Legit – WalletHacks.com
- How to Tell If a GPT Site is Legit or a Scam – Reddit.com
- Known GPT Scams – Reddit.com