[Tips]The Better Business Bureau (BBB) and Online Surveys

The Better Business Bureau is an organization which serves to act as a neutral liaison between consumers and companies when conflicts arise. The BBB was founded in 1912 and has over 130 offices in the USA, Canada, and Puerto Rico.

The BBB offers two types of seals businesses can earn:

1.Certified Participant of the BBBOnLine Privacy Program
This seal is awarded to businesses that adhere to the standards set out by the BBBOnLine program, which include having the online privacy notice meet rigorous privacy principles, completing a comprehensive privacy assessment, monitoring and review by a trusted organization, and participation in the programs consumer dispute resolution system.

2.BBBOnLine Reliability Participation Confirmed
This seal assures users that the company displaying this award has made a commitment to high levels of ethical business practices and customer satisfaction, the company has been in business for more than one year, they have a satisfactory record with the Better Business Bureau and are committed to work with customers and the BBB to resolve matters in the case of a dispute.

...Back to legitimate survey providers.

3.Articles by the Better Business Bureau
Is This Survey for Real?
An article by the BBB which provides basic criteria on how to evaluate if an online, mail, or telephone survey is legitimate. Tips include watching for "red flags" such as being pressured to buy something, as well as asking marketers to provide contact information about the research company conducting the survey.
Shop, Dine AND Get Paid?
Another article by the BBB which is a great read for anyone interested in becoming a mystery shopper. Tips include staying away from firms asking for a fee to mystery shop, as well as checking with the BBB on prior company claims.

Just because an online survey company does not bear a BBB seal, does not mean that they are illegitimate. BBB seals must be purchased, and some businesses do not wish to incur the expense.

[Tips]Paying Tax on Online Survey Income in Canada

Canada Revenue Agency requires all income generated by individuals and businesses throughout the year, to be claimed on their income tax returns.

Income generated by online surveys is considered "other income" and should be entered on line 104 on an individual tax return. Report the full amount of income you generated on this line, and simply label it as "online survey taking".

You will not be issued a T4 form by an online survey company at the end of the year, as being a participant in surveys does not make you an employee of these companies. Rather, think of it as being self-employed for the duration of the survey.

The amount entered on line 104 of your individual income tax return will be added to the income you generated throughout the year from other sources, i.e. employment, investments, etc. The federal and provincial income tax rates vary per year and per province, however the 2006 federal tax brackets and rates are as follows:

15% on the first $36,378 of taxable income;
22% on the next $36,378 of taxable income;
26% on the next $45,529 of taxable income; and
29% of taxable income over $118,285.

2007 tax brackets are as follows;

15.5% on the first $37,178 of taxable income;
22% on the next $37,179 of taxable income;
26% on the next $46,530 of taxable income; and
29% of taxable income over $120,887

More information can be found at: http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/tax/individuals/faq/taxrates-e.html

[Tips]Paying Taxes on Online Survey Income - USA

The IRS (Internal Revenue Service) requires all individual income to be claimed, no matter what the source. There is no such minimum dollar value such as $500 or more that has to be claimed - each and every penny you make should be reported on your personal income tax to the IRS. Online survey earnings are normally reported under "other income" on your personal income tax. Records that substantiate the amount of this income (such as check stubs from market research companies) should be kept on file.

If you receive a W99 form from a market research company, you are considered a self-employed contractor of the marketing firm. Your total yearly earnings should also be claimed under "other income" on your personal income taxes, however you are also able to complete Schedule C, which allows for deductible expenses. Expenses incurred taking online survey taking are minimal, but can include such things as internet access, electricity, office furniture, computer equipment, etc. These expenses will offset your total income earned, but you will still be required to pay self-employment tax on the remaining income.

If you claim a substantial amount of income on the "other personal income" line of your personal income tax without completing Schedule C, the IRS will question this. It is important to receive W99 forms from market research companies with whom you have generated large amounts of income from. Not only will this appease the IRS, but it is also beneficial for you to be considered self-employed as you are able to write off expenses. If you have not received a W99 form from an online survey company, contact them and ask them to issue you this form.

If you have additional income tax questions, please contact the IRS directly.

[Tips]Online Survey Requirements and Downloads

In order to make your online survey experience as productive and profitable as possible, here are a list of links and resources to increase your efficiency online.

Browser Updates
Internet Explorer Latest Version
FireFox Free Browser
Netscape Browser Latest Version

Flash Player Update
Macromedia Flash Player latest version

Free Online Form Filler Software
Google Toolbar - use the autofill feature
iNet Form Filler
Field Filler

[Tips]Why Don't I Receive Any Online Surveys?

You've registered with an online survey company, but it's been a month and you haven't received any survey invitations. What's going on?

1. Make sure your contact information is correct

- you cannot expect to receive any online survey invitations if the e-mail address you provide is incorrect
2. Complete additional 'profiles'
- the more information about yourself you provide to a research company, the more likely it is they will contact you with online surveys. If profiles are options to be completed, consider doing so.
3. Be Patient!
- remember that if there are no surveys available for your demographic, you wil not be contacted. A marketing research company first needs to be hired by a company needing research services before you, the panliest will be contacted. Stay patient, and eventually you will be invitied to participated in a survey.

You've registered with an online survey company, participated in surveys, but all of a sudden the survey invitations stop coming. What happened?

1. Incorrect contact information
- check to make sure that the e-mail address you provided is still current and that you're checking your e-mail regularly. Make sure the information is up to date.
2. Check your SPAM filter
- some e-mail providers will automatically route suspicious-looking e-mail to junk-mail folders. Your survey invitations may be sitting here. If this is the case, add the survey panel's e-mail address to your "safe senders" list and survey invitations will be accessible directly from your inbox.
3. No studies are available
- if there are no matching studies for your demographic, you will not be sent any survey invitations. Again, exercise patience!
4. You've been "blacklisted" as a panelist
- survey panellists who provide poor quality responses, inconsistent answers, and complete surveys especially quickly, may be "blacklisted.- This means that a survey panel will flag panlists accounts, discontinuing inviting panellists to participate in studies. Panels do this to ensure the integrity of the surveys they conduct and so that safeguards are in place against notorious "professional survey takers".- The best way to avoid being blacklisted is to take your time when answering online surveys and provide honest answers when doing so. These simple measures should be enough to prevent most survey participants from bing incorrectly labelled as an unsuitable survey panelist.

What should you do if you've been unfairly blacklisted?
Contact the research company directly and inquire about being blacklisted. Remember though that online survey companies have the right to ban panellists who they feel have abused their rights as a member of their survey panel.

**Please do not file complaints with SurveysCenter against survey companies who do not send you regular online survey invitations. Your request will not be honoured.