Every business wants deeper and more accurate insights into the market to analyze competitors’ and customers’ understanding. And, effective market research is the one and only way to achieve those goals. Among different methods of market research, surveys are the most preferred method due to their ability to have a significant impact on customers and gather essential information to drive business decisions.
The look and feel of the surveys have evolved over the years with the same purpose of getting the required information. But today marketers and customers are facing a daunting challenge, that is, online survey fraud. Despite the fact that technology and innovation have revolutionized market research, the industry has been plagued by a surge in online fraud, which is jeopardizing data integrity and quality.
Fraudsters such as malicious individuals, click farms, bots, and competitors have seized this opportunity to participate in online surveys and submit fake responses, thereby undermining the mission of survey providers. This has been a persistent problem for many companies. It’s clear that online survey fraud poses a serious threat to the integrity of market research and the businesses that work on intense data. This is why companies are emphasizing strongly to have effective fraud detection techniques in place to make each survey worth investing in.
If you are new to market research and have no clue why your results are non-promising then you might be a victim of survey fraud. To help newcomers, we have highlighted what survey frauds are, how survey frauds have progressed over the years, their impact on businesses and customers, ways for detecting potential survey frauds, and the best tips to avoid fraudsters with smart surveys.
Let’s start with survey fraud, leading our way to fraud detection techniques.
What is a Survey Fraud?
Survey fraud refers to any deceptive or dishonest activity carried out with the intent to manipulate or distort the results of a survey. It involves the deliberate submission of false or misleading information in response to survey questions, leading to inaccurate data and compromising the validity and reliability of the survey results.
Over time, with the advancement of technology, frauds are also evolving, which can significantly impact the data quality and alter the results. For those who are unaware of how far survey fraud can go, go through the evolution of survey fraud.
Effective Fraud Detection Methods to Detect Survey Frauds
To detect fraud, one must understand fraudsters’ tactics and perform quality checks during registration, as they often use multiple accounts or change IP addresses. This is a common issue for market researchers.
An effective Market Research solution offers fraud detection facilities that can serve a dual purpose to help manage survey responses and prevent fraud.
Below are some proven methods to discover frauds entering the survey.
- Enabling IP tracking for respondents
Image Credits: Surveysparrow
To ensure quality responses, keeping an eye on your respondents’ IP addresses is helpful. By enabling IP tracking during the Configure step, you can see which networks respondents are using to access your survey. This could be a personal WiFi network, a shared public library network, or a university dormitory.
If you suspect fraudulent behavior, watch for multiple respondents coming from the same IP address. This could indicate that one person (or a group of people) is repeatedly taking your survey and skewing your results. However, don’t be too quick to assume foul play if you see a few duplicate IP addresses. It could simply be a group of individuals using the same shared network.
- Disable “multiple participation”
You must have a feature preventing respondents from applying for the same survey multiple times. Rewards make them greedy, and to get more rewards, respondents go to different heights and try to fill out surveys in all possible ways.
As per GDPR, businesses cannot track people and save their data without consent. Thus, businesses use a small cookie file in their browser’s cache memory that will only identify if that specific browser has opened the same survey link.
- Reviewing time stamps
The time taken by respondents to complete the survey is crucial information. To get a sense of how long it takes them to read and respond to each question, you can give the survey to a few people and how long it takes them to finish. This will give you an average time for completion.
When reviewing the data, it’s normal to see longer participation times, as respondents may have taken breaks or been interrupted. However, be wary of very short completion times that fall significantly below the average, as this may indicate rushed or dishonest answers.
Additionally, watch for multiple submissions with similar start and end times, which could be a sign of spambots. Checking completion times ensure the quality and accuracy of your survey responses.
As per SurveyMonkey, the average time to complete a survey is below.
Image Credits: Surveymonkey
- Reviewing respondents’ device information
Another piece of information that a business must review is the respondent’s system information. When the same device and browser produce identical responses, it could be a red flag for potential fraud. So, it’s important to be alert and take action if you notice this happening. Don’t let scammers get the upper hand!
- Browser Fingerprinting fraud detection technique
Fingerprinting is a tracking technique that gathers sufficient information to distinguish an individual user across browsing sessions, even when they are in incognito mode or using a VPN.
Unlike cookies, which can be easily cleared or disabled by users through methods like ad blockers, fingerprinting is considered a more effective tracking method. When a browsing session does not match a specific cookie, companies use browser fingerprinting to identify the user visiting their website.
Every time you visit a website or use an app, your device inadvertently discloses a significant amount of data. This is inevitable due to the unique combination of your device’s hardware and software architecture.
Some examples of the fingerprints left behind include timezone, screen size, device model, installed fonts, installed drivers, operating system, language settings, and browser extensions. Companies can collect countless more signals, and the more they gather, the easier it becomes to pinpoint a specific user. Some companies use FingerprintJS, an advanced open-source JS library, that detects fraud by hashing unique device/browser features for a distinct identifier.
It helps you to check if the user is again registering and completing the survey. This has been the best and most commonly used Fraud Detection technique available.
- Mobile verification method
Another way to check the authenticity of the respondent is to verify their mobile details by sending an OTP and ensuring that it has not already been registered as a respondent.
- Address verification method
Sometimes respondents create false addresses to enter the survey from different locations to earn rewards. But it can significantly impact the result of the survey. So companies can simply verify the respondent’s address to check if they are a genuine respondent, and you can rely on their responses for better decision-making.
If the address matches the respondent who has already completed the survey, you can terminate their screening process and take them off the survey page.
Besides these methods to detect fraud, you can implement internal checks on your survey to keep the fraudsters away.
Tips to Trick Fraudsters with Smart Survey Creation For Fraud Detection
Cheating while completing and registering for surveys can be a major problem, but technology can only do so much to prevent it. To make sure your survey results are accurate and reliable, there are additional steps you can take to discourage fraudsters from skewing your data.
While creating surveys, the designer must remember the goals below to ensure smooth fraud detection.
Image Credits: Qualtrics
Let’s explore some effective strategies that can help you maintain the integrity of your survey results and ensure the insights you gather are trustworthy.
- Using psychological tricks
Don’t let cheaters ruin your survey! You can scare them off immediately by letting them know you have a foolproof way of catching them. Even if you don’t have fancy monitoring tools, you can simply ask for a valid email address at the beginning of your survey.
This will validate their identity. Plus, adding a required email question and a page break ensures they can’t move forward without providing one. So, protect the integrity of your survey and make cheaters think twice with this simple but effective fraud detection tactic.
- Ask for the respondent’s commitment
Cheating in surveys can lead to inaccurate results and compromise the brand’s reputation. To prevent this, it’s crucial to ensure that respondents provide genuine opinions and information.
According to research, one effective method is to ask a question that requires a specific positive response, like “Will you commit to answering truthfully?” This creates a behavioral commitment that increases the likelihood of honest answers. So, to obtain honest survey responses, use this technique and encourage your respondents to commit to truthful answers!
- Implement extra validations using logic flows
Adding logic validations in your survey can improve the quality of your data. By creating screening paths with multiple conflicting response options, you can identify whether respondents rush through or answer randomly. If they don’t meet your criterion, the logic flows will prevent them from proceeding, drastically decreasing unqualified responses. So, you must add tailored logic validations to drive accurate and reliable data.
- Implement panel sampling instead of river sampling
River sampling and panel sampling are two different approaches to collecting survey data. River sampling involves mass-inviting people to take the survey through online ads and promotions, but researchers have no control over who will participate and can’t follow up after completion. On the other hand, panel sampling involves inviting pre-screened individuals from an affiliate site who have already expressed interest in participating in surveys.
Panelists can be reached again, and researchers can target specific demographics for more reliable data. While river sampling can complement, panel sampling provides a more dedicated and trustworthy data source. However, overly selective panel sampling can result in rigid data. Without double opt-in verification, river sampling can attract anyone with any intention, making it less precise.
- Open-ended questions
Incorporating an open-ended question into your surveys is a smart move to deter any sneaky cheating. To ensure every respondent can thoughtfully answer this question, consider placing it at the end of your survey and marking it as ‘required’. this has been an interactive way for survey fraud detection.
But beware, not all participants will give meaningful answers. Some may even type out gibberish! To weed out any unhelpful responses, set a minimum character or word limit for this question. When reviewing individual responses, spotting and removing any participants who didn’t meet this requirement will be easy.
Image Credits: Questionpro
- Attention check
Let’s discuss a clever way to gather reliable information from your respondents. All you need to do is ask a simple question and provide them with a list of choices to choose from. You can make it even more effective by adding either a single or multiple-selection question and instructing them to choose only one option or skip the question altogether.
Now, here’s the exciting part. By doing this, you’ll be able to filter out respondents who didn’t follow the instructions, or even better, disqualify those who answered incorrectly using logic flows.
In the example below, if the respondent does not give proper attention, they will fill in the wrong answer.
Image Credits: Leadquizzes
However, these are not the only ones, it is up to the business and survey designer what internal checks they want to implement to achieve their goals.
Creating a smart survey, it requires an expert hand and a proper understanding of the market, respondents, and survey creation.
Protect Surveys With OnGraph’s Fraud Detection Solutions
Market research helps you understand your audience and make informed decisions. However, response fabrication and fraudulent survey responses have become more rampant than ever before. This can compromise the integrity of your research, leading to incorrect conclusions and poor business decisions. Thus we need modern-age fraud detection techniques to eliminate them.
But don’t worry, there’s a solution! By implementing various checks, you can prevent market research fraud and ensure the authenticity of survey responses. We have listed ways for efficient fraud detection to improve your surveys and focus on designing surveys and implementing them to gather accurate data.
If you are looking for impactful solutions to help your business protect the surveys, then you must connect with experts from OnGraph. Our services, such as fraud detection and survey creation tools help filter out invalid survey responses, fake user data, bots, and incentivized survey completion. Schedule a call with one of our experts to demonstrate how we help businesses create secure and cost-effective market research solutions.