Skip to main content

Upgrading the Armory: Cutting-Edge Tools to Vanquish Sample and Survey Fraud

Upgrade your armoury with cutting-edge weapons to vanquish survey fraud and protect your business from scammers. Don't let survey fraud ruin your hard work!

Cutting-Edge Tools to Vanquish Sample and Survey Fraud

If reading the title gets your inner geek fired up, this article is for you. As market research professionals dealing with major quality issues in our sample data, we all dream of high-tech silver bullets to defeat fraudsters once and for all. The reality is messier—but encouraging progress is happening on the innovation front.

In this piece, we’ll decode the latest weapons research firms are deploying to combat bogus respondents. I’ll translate geek-speak into plain English, focus on implications for research buyers like you, and offer pro tips for integrating new capabilities into your tech stack to maximize integrity. Time to nerd out on the exciting new tools of fraud-fighting!

Level Setting: The Adversaries in This Data Quality Arms Race

Before introducing new tech reinforcements to help beat back bad data, let’s examine the enemies they’re designed to defeat. As sampling's integrity erodes, who are the main adversaries?
  • 1. Bots and Automation – Scripted tools snatch up survey links posted openly and blast through, posing as human respondents—but providing nonsense data. Detecting their patterns challenges our defences.
  • 2. Click Farms – Low-paid workers in warehouses bang out surveys en masse for pay without regard for accuracy. Scalable, cheap, playing endless games of digital Whac-A-Mole.
  • 3. True Fraudsters – Enterprising individuals create multiple fake IDs to collect extra incentives and give garbage data. Masters of disguise who cause immense distortions.
  • 4. Over-Surveyed Career Respondents – Retirees and super fans providing data daily treat this as a “job”, leading to fatigue, straight-lining, and questionable reliability
  • 5. Disengaged/Distracted Respondents – Whether bored, busy, or bewildered by unclear questions, even well-meaning panelists submit plenty of noise alongside their signal.
Against these threats, the integrity of insights hangs in the balance. Let’s review promising new weapons giving our side a fighting chance for the quality of your online survey:

I. Robust Device Fingerprinting for Cloaked Intruder Detection

Core Capabilities:
  • Fingerprinting captures device attributes like OS, IP address, browser, time zone, and other markers
  • Analyzes patterns across attributes to develop unique signatures for that device
  • Checks returning devices against history for linked patterns indicating fraud or malicious activity
Key Benefits:
  • Unmasks sophisticated bots, click farms, and fraud rings trying common cloaking techniques
  • Catches bad actors who switch up tactics like VPNs, TOR, or scrambling ID data
  • Beyond binaries of duplicate/not, provides risk scoring to gauge threat levels
Implementation Musts:
  • Enable for all survey links to frontline defense
  • Set stringency thresholds based on survey vulnerability
  • Review diagnostic analytics continuously and fine-tune

II. Geolocation and Geo-Time Sync Check for Global Research Fraud Catfishers

Core Capabilities:
  • Captures device time zone, language settings and stated geo/time
  • Check if the device time and stated time match the expected time at the stated location
  • Flags mismatches suggesting mystery respondents in the wrong time zone
Key Benefits:
  • Catches inconsistent stories from fraudsters about location/local time
  • Useful for international research to confirm actual geography
  • A cost-effective, lightweight safeguard as an additional survey fraud check
Implementation Musts:
  • Set acceptable time variance tolerance
  • Account for circumstances like travel or remote work across time zones
  • Confirm detected location against panel source known areas

III. Device Reputation Database Check for High-Risk Survey Restriction

Core Capabilities:
  • Checks devices against constantly updated databases tracking fraud footprints
  • Flags use of proxy servers, anonymizing tools, risky settings
Key Benefits:
  • Stops devices already associated with fraud from entering surveys
  • Lean, nimble, and cheap way to filter high-probability threats
  • Focuses efforts on risky segments for enhanced efficiency
Implementation Musts:
  • Keep databases updated and retain only active identifiers
  • Evaluate restrictiveness carefully – don’t limit panels excessively
  • Combine with other tools for balanced detection

IV. Off-the-shelf models and AI for Automated Survey Fraud Threat Assessment

Core Capabilities:
  • Models look for patterns suggestive of bots or dubious human behaviors
  • AI classifies devices as fraudulent/legitimate based on those patterns
  • Self-learns over time as new fraud data enters the system
Key Benefits:
  • Speed, efficiency, consistency, and scalability over manual reviews
  • The capacity to ingest enormous datasets is not feasible manually
  • Maintains vigilance 24/7 unlike fatigue-prone analysts
Implementation Musts:
  • Audit AI to ensure biases not restrict sample
  • Enable human override capabilities
  • Layer AI on top of – not instead of – other fraud checks

V. Behavioral Analytics Segmentation for Hard-Core Fraudulent Activity Hunting

Core Capabilities:
  • Ingests expansive historical logs of user actions across the web
  • Analyzes trends like sites visited for behavioral segmentation
  • Can append segments to survey data for further analysis
Key Benefits:
  • Granular views into behavior patterns that suggest credibility/risks
  • It helps distinguish serious survey takers from those who are less reliable
  • Powerful in mitigating prolific “career respondents.”
Implementation Musts:
  • Ensure segmentation aligns properly with survey populations
  • Inform respondents of appended behavioral data usage
  • Use only as a supplemental check given privacy sensitivities

The Silver Bullets We’ve Been Waiting For?

So there we have it – five advanced weapons delivering serious firepower for the anti-fraud arsenal. With techniques spanning fingerprinting, geolocation, reputation databases, AI, and behavioral analytics, we’re light years beyond old dup-checking software.

You might ask – is the battle finally won? Can we declare victory against bogus submissions to get real survey responses? I wish I could say yes – but more realistically, we’re making steady progress in an ongoing arms race. As fraud detection levels up, the adversaries find new tricks moving the goalposts further.

But advanced analytics and AI offer better odds than we’ve ever had before. Building fraud-fighting systems with layered defense-in-depth integrating a mix of these weapons is our best blueprint for protecting insights integrity over the long haul.

The Road Ahead: Next Steps for Winning the Survey Sample Fraud War

As with any conflict, securing hard-fought gains takes vigilance. Here are 3 key steps I recommend to leverage these new fraud-fighting tools for maximum impact:

1. Keep Pushing the Innovation Envelope

The tech genie is out of the bottle – and thank goodness for that. But complacency is not an option in an endless arms race. We need to keep challenging vendors with tougher problems, investing in emerging capabilities, and jumping on the next innovations to move the battle to detect survey fraud forward.

2. Balance Protection with Production

Layering on new fraud checks and scam prevention tools without care risks unintended consequences - introducing sample bias, incorrectly flagging legitimate responses, and over-surveying panels. Evaluate each technology critically regarding how extensively to deploy for optimal protection without restricting production.

3. Stay Laser-Focused on Respondent's Experience

Our best allies are engaged participants not worn down by cumbersome security theater. As fraud detection ratchets up, ensure the user experience remains front and center. Technological advancements shouldn’t absolve us from also making surveys compelling, respecting privacy, and safeguarding trust.

The Bottom Line: Our Future Hinges on This Fight

I opened by embracing my inner geek, but this really isn’t about flashy gadgets or sci-fi theatrics. It’s about protecting the integrity and credibility of insights in a complex world rife with misinformation and mistrust.

High-quality data is the lifeblood of our industry – without it, we have no purpose. And in difficult times, sound insights to inform decisions matter more than ever. That’s why we need to stay united and committed for the long haul on this issue.

With rigorous protocols, sustained investment, and harnessing innovation as allies, we can combat the forces eroding survey integrity from the outside. But active participation from all of us on the inside remains crucial too. Through raised standards, shared accountability, better design, and an unwavering focus on our core mission, we build the foundations for lasting trust and visibility into the changes happening in the world around us.

So be proud of your inner geek - and stay vigilant. Our future depends on it.

As the leading online data collection agency, TGM Research conducted multiple market research projects across the regions. To discover more about our research practices and security measures reach out to us.

Explore articles to master the market research planning

Explore articles to master the market research planning