Fake Respondents!


Increasingly we are coming across more and more respondents who aren’t who they say they are (or type who they are!)

On 3 separate occasions recently and in 3 different locations across the country we have had people who we have found out one way or another to be applying for or unfortunately attending on one occasion a depth or group discussion under a false identity.

Why might this be?

After discussion with recruiters we feel the following may be some of the reasons why we are starting to see this more frequently:

  • People are actually a little more desperate for the money and they see market research as an easy gig once they know how it works

  • Recruiters are speaking to respondents less as these days most communication is done by email hence its easier to set up a false identity and get away with it.

  • If a recruiter puts out the details of what is needed for the project a respondent can mould themselves to fit into that and use an identity the recruiter doesn’t know to present exactly what is needed.

How can we eliminate it?

This whole situation is very difficult to police as recruiters really have to trust on the most part what a potential respondent is telling them. They, afterall, are helping out with the research and that we are grateful for. However people that are not really who they say they are make a mockery of all the hard work we all do and these people need to be eliminated from taking part in the future.

To comply with data protection recruiters really shouldn’t be sharing respondent details with other recruiters and this makes it difficult to eliminate the culprits of this from other recruiter databases in the area.

As an agency we use several recruiters in any one area and therefore we are able to keep a ‘watchlist’ of respondents we have found to be problematic in some way and if they happen to pop up as being recruited by someone else in the area then we can ask the recruiter to replace that respondent and also remove them from their database as they will not be accepted in the future. What we can’t do is make that watchlist available to all recruiters or account for any new aliases that might appear on recruiter databases as the respondent has become wise to the fact they are no longer being asked to participate.

It is becoming common practice for respondents to have to present ID when they attend a viewing studio and maybe this should be extended to all qual fieldwork that is conducted. As with most things the few spoil things for the many. We all pay more car insurance for example because of the ones that don’t and these dishonest respondents are doing the industry as a whole no favours!

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