5 myths you should know about market research fraud.

Market research fraud


It’s a dirty little word, chock-full of images with white collar criminals. But the truth is, the fraud you should be most concerned with isn’t found in headlines. It lies deep beneath consumer panels full of bots and bad practices, threatening to destroy your hard-earned market research.

Don’t fall victim to it.

Fraud can easily wriggle its way into your market research. So, here are 5 myths you should know to protect you – and your consumer data – from fraud.

Myth #1: Fraud isn’t a big deal.


It is.

In fact, fraud is a big enough deal that typical trade associations like ESOMAR and ADM aren’t yet ready to put a number on it. Yes, they’re aware of response fraud. They know people are making bold moves in faking survey responses but by how much? They still don’t know.

Here’s the truth.

It’s believed that about 5 to 10% of market research comes from fake respondents. Some estimates say that number is as high as 50%, though it’d be rare.1 Regardless, the issue remains the same. Fraud is an expensive threat to market research – and to your results.

Still, you may think that …

Myth #2 Fraud is dying down.

It’s not.

Unfortunately, it’s the opposite. Attempted fraud is on the rise in loyalty, retail and data sectors. As well as our own. Over the past year, fraud has seen a 200% increase in industry reports.2 

Clearly, fraud isn’t going anywhere. 

In fact, with the technology changes forced upon us by the pandemic, you’re not likely to see response fraud slow down soon.

But, you may still believe … 

Myth #3: Fraud only happens in small companies.


Fraud doesn’t discriminate.

Surveys run for big firms are still filled in by competitors, click farms, and bots. Fraud happens to everyone. On average, one in five survey responses has fraudulent user data. That’s 20% of your market research results being filled with bogus feedback4  – it’s a big number. 

All of it hurts your results. 

After all, if only 80% of data can be trusted, it means every company is being impacted. 

Which means that not even …

Myth #4: Nonprofits are free from fraud.

That’s right. 

No company is safe.

Recently, ESOMAR redacted its 2023-2024 election results. The industry body was hit by fraud too, finding an interference that occurred in their process. Two staff members were terminated and a new election will be held after the results were invalidated, all due to serious misconduct.5  

Fraud can happen to anyone, at any time. 

Still, you may think …

Myth #5: Fraudsters are easy to find and remove.

They’re not.

You can’t exactly sidestep them. 

Fraudsters will enter an online panel as often as possible. They can quickly create multiple email aliases, and fool market researchers into believing they’re a new panelist.6 Often they will masquerade their demographics or create new fake IDs, making them hard to eliminate.

Don’t get caught by them …

Protect your research from fraud.

Choose a clean consumer panel.

To avoid fraud, and the instances outlined above, you can work with a zero-party panel. These are consumer panelists who are paid fairly for their efforts, which means your chances of dealing with fraud are instantly reduced. 

In a zero-party panel, there’s no incentive to falsify results. Panelists are rewarded for being upfront, whether they qualify or not. And, bots are eliminated as rigorous rules are put in place to qualify as an ongoing consumer panelist. For more information  on protecting your market research from fraud, and to see the nation’s largest consumer panel, check out Fair Trade Data® — behavioral data that pollsters, and pollees, can feel good about.


  1. https://www.prediki.com/meta/en/Response-Fraud-in-Market-Research-How-Bad-is-it-/ 
  2. https://www.greenbook.org/mr/market-research-trends/the-new-dynamics-of-online-sample-quality/  
  3. https://www.google.com/url?q=https://mailchi.mp/quirks/daily-new-queue-esomar-invalidates-election-results?e%3Dfa7de230ab&sa=D&source=calendar&usd=2&usg=AOvVaw0aeRJxFr97Vh7OMfD6LFvs 
  4. https://www.ipqualityscore.com/articles/view/67/8-methods-to-prevent-market-research-fraud 
  5. https://www.mrweb.com/drno/news34283.htm 
  6. https://www.datadecisionsgroup.com/blog/bid/123116/identity-crisis-preventing-fraud-on-your-custom-panel 

By Theresa Bui

Reviewed by Avani Patel

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