Fraudulent Survey Responses? 8 Methods to Prevent Market Research Fraud

Are your panels experiencing fraudulent surveys responses? Explore the latest trends for market research fraud and 8 methods to prevent invalid survey responses.

On average, one in five survey responses or roughly 20% of market research, is submitted with fraudulent user data or bogus feedback. Why? Because not every survey taker is made the same. Nefarious individuals, competitors, click farms, and bots can all take surveys online that contribute to market research fraud which disrupt the survey provider’s mission.

Stopping Survey Panel Fraud

Incentivized survey completion such as affiliate traffic and pay per lead survey responses can compound the issue of invalid panel submissions. Often times, these fraudulent affiliates will use malicious software and bots to automatically complete surveys to inflate their commission.

So What's The Solution?

Market Research Fraud

If your goal is to accurately conduct market research, any amount of false data can significantly skew your survey results and make it difficult to conclude an accurate consensus. Depending on the industry, the rate of fraudulent survey responses is somewhere between 5% and 26% of all responses. When you provide a survey as part of your market research campaign, 26% is catastrophic and even 5% is severely damaging.

How can you protect your research against fraudulent survey responses? Finding, removing, and preventing fake responses is no small feat, but there are things you can do today to add extra layers of protection around your market research. You can regain confidence in your survey results and make appropriate business decisions based on facts and not fraud.

8 Quick Ways to Prevent Market Research Fraud

  • Add Repeat Questions for Consistency. Place similar questions at the beginning and end of the survey like the respondent’s age, ethnicity, or physical location. Matching answers point to a valid survey taker and responses. Anything that is misaligned could indicate fraudulent answers.
  • Time the Survey from Start to Finish. Calculate the average response time for your users. If a survey completion is well below the average, it could indicate an automatic form filling program or a user trying to complete the form as quickly as possible with inaccurate user data.
  • Include Open-ended Comment Sections. Fraudulent survey takers often input plagiarized text from other sources that doesn’t apply to the survey at hand. They may even copy and paste exact text from the survey questions. Check every comment section for plagiarism, irrelevance, and nonsensical gibberish spellings like “thr#&it.”
  • Choose Options that Prevent Ballot Stuffing. Most survey software has options that allow you to prevent multiple survey submissions from the same IP address or computer. Ballot stuffing submits several surveys from the same place to overwhelm your results.
  • Device Fingerprinting. Prevent survey stuffing by only accepting 1 conversion per device ID. Device Fingerprinting can track the same device even as it changes IP addresses.
  • Validate Zip Codes and Phone Numbers. Typically the zip code and phone number for fraudulent users will not match the same location. Taking this a step further, IPQS can validate phone numbers to determine if they are VOIP or digital lines typically used for malicious behavior.
  • Validate Email Addresses. IPQS provides a simple API end point that can validate email addresses while also providing reputation feedback to indicate if a respondent's email has recently been used for abusive behavior.
  • Ask Attention Getting Questions. Make the answers obvious to real respondents. People who move quickly through a survey just to receive any included incentive will miss the obvious answers. Try asking the respondent to choose a specific number from a list. Fraudulent takers and bots will usually choose the wrong number.

A True Solution for Survey Fraud

Response fabrication is a serious issue and more widespread than ever before. Whatever the reason behind the fraudulent survey responses, you can add protection to your surveys in 8 quick steps. Put more time into the design and implementation of your surveys and you’ll increase the integrity of your market research results.

IPQualityScore features user validation tools to filter invalid survey responses, bogus user data, bots, and incentivized form filling. Deploy our tools with just a few clicks using a simple API integration that verifies responses in real-time.

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