Am I willing to divulge my personal information?


There are three primary reasons why survey companies put out questionnaires:

  • To get input on a product or service in order to improve that product, or in order to target the marketing correctly.
  • To prove the efficacy of a product or service.  In this instance a focus group or a product testing panel may be assembled to critique the product.  Hospitals or research institutions may hold double-blind studies to determine if a particular medicine or therapy works before it goes out to the general public.
  • To get your contact information.  Lead generation is perhaps the most common reason for a survey or poll.

When you answer a survey of any sort you are divulging a lot of personal information about yourself and your family.  Almost always the surveyor will get your name and email address.  Often they ask address and phone contact information as well.  Questionnaires often ask for your income information, the credit cards you use, the magazines you read, and the kind of coffee you drink in the morning, and on and on.  Face it, when you fill out surveys you are opening up your private world to all sorts of uses and abuses. 

Theoretically, when the information is used for research purposes only, your name and other identifying information is stripped from the results.  After all, it is the demographic data combined with product opinions of people taking the surveys that contributes to an understanding of how well a product will do in the marketplace. 

Unless the survey company at the time you signed up warrants that no personal information is sold or reused, there’s a very good chance that your personal data, your likes and interests will be sold to companies that create consumer email and telephone lists for marketers to use.  You will probably see an increase in the number of spam emails, cold calls and junk mail that you receive as a result of your survey work.

To minimize abuse, look for warranty assurances from the survey company on the uses that will be made of your information.  Look for Online Better Business Bureau or other memberships that assure that site is legitimate.  Check out any credit bureau or other accrediting agency to see if there are complaints about the company before you sign up. 

Another essential is to start a new email address specifically for your survey work.  This way all of your survey assignments will be together, and if you happen to get spammed as a result of one of these companies your regular email box will not be affected.

Important Questions You Must Ask and Answer Before You Do Surveys

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