Free Money for Surveys... LOL
Someone asked me about the “Free Money for Surveys” thing that you see all over the web and on late night infomercials. Having done programming for a company that did this sort of thing I have an insight other people may not.
Something you should realize about these “research” projects… they are not doing research for whatever it is they claim to be looking for information on, they are doing research ON YOU.
More than likely they will ask you for your address to send you a check. They do this not only to send you your money but to verify that you are who you say you are. BTW, they then get the information on who you bank with or if you use a check cashing place. The information about you starts to accrue.
Will they pay you for your information? Yes; they may pay you $20 or more for your information (and they now have in a profile on you) and then sell that information. Take a survey, sure they pay you another $20 and then sell your responses and profile to other companies (yes plural) for $50 (maybe more, maybe less) per record. Say they have 4 companies interested in this information they will have netted $180 PER PERSON TAKING THE SURVEY.
Combine this with your “profile” and they start to get a pretty good picture of who you are (physical, psychological, tastes, political leanings, sexual preferences, and a whole lot more) and your general profile becomes worth a lot of money. The more surveys you take, the more your profile is worth. Sure they may fork over a few hundred to you by the time you stop answering surveys (and you will eventually stop answering surveys) but they will make thousands if not tens of thousands of dollars off your information resold to anyone that wants to do targeted marketing, psychological research, social research, market trending, and a whole lot more.
It is sure as can be one of the “surveys” will be about your preference of supermarkets. They will ask if you use the “supermarket saving cards” and if you do they will buy your shopping preferences. Another survey will be on your use of credit cards. They will ask which company you use but never ask for your number (because that would be invasive, LOL) and then buy the info from them on your card usage.
Have you done anything that has a public record(buy a house, get married, change your name, get a traffic ticket, been arrested, involved in a fire, social services, child services, etc)? If so they will find it and add it to your record (see what a little info can get them) and by now your profile is incredibly detailed. It is a good bet they have pictures of you, your spouse, your kids, your parents, etc. They will certainly know your whole family structure (from social networks, census information, medical records, etc.)(You don’t think Ancestry.com does what it does for nothing do you? YOU PAY THEM TO RESEARCH YOUR FAMILY STRUCTURE AND THEY THEN RESELL THAT DATA!) They will know your complete tax history and employment history (better than you), and finally, they will know your complete medical history (and insurance history).
Even if you stop taking surveys they will continue selling your information, sometimes for years. Through the years they will send you a junk email and if the email is not returned they know it is valid and keep selling your information. Same holds for the postal mail, phone numbers, etc.
So, you will see an increase in junk email and junk postal mail. You will get more calls from solicitors and it is quite possible you will get solicitors at your door.
There is a whole lot more to this but you get the picture, your information and opinions are worth FAR MORE MONEY THAN YOU EVER GET.
Want a twist? Let’s say you do start doing these surveys and let’s say you “opt in” to multiple “research” projects, it is very likely that you will have opted in with a particular company multiple times. Now of course each company is going to ask similar questions, but if you are not honest and answer the questions differently the company you have multiple opt ins with will know your honesty level. Answer too many surveys dishonestly and they will cut you off and have gained a very powerful insight about you.
Can you guess three of the biggest of these companies? They are Equifax, Trans-Union, and Experian, the credit rating companies. It is a sure bet your research company will sell all the information they have to these big three, and now your personal information is really getting around.
I used to say this, “Give me a few minutes and I will tell you what you had for breakfast.” A few people took me up on that and you know what? I told them what they had for breakfast and I was right. As I said the information on each person is incredibly detailed. School records, college records and exam information, the list of information never seems to end.
Yes, I wrote programs for companies that did this sort of thing. I made a whole lot of money doing it. Personally, I would never get involved in one of these schemes, but hey, the money they offer is real, it is a legitimate offer and there is nothing illegal about it. But you really should know what you’re getting involved with and that is why I took the time to write this.