Is Amazon Mechanical Turk A Scam?


We heard some rumors that Amazon Mechanical Turk might be a scam so the WFHW team decided to check it out so we could provide our readers with an honest review of the program.

What is Amazon Turk?

Amazon Turk is a market place for work that requires human intelligence.  It was created by Amazon based on the idea that there are some things that humans beings can do much more effectively than computers.  Such tasks include selecting objects from a picture or video, writing product descriptions, transcribing audios, or searching data details.

Companies or developers that need tasks done can assess Amazon Turk’s market place of workers.  Tasks are known as HITS (Human Intelligence Tasks) which are questions that need an answer.

Is Amazon Turk A Scam?

Amazon Turk has been around since 2005 and is not a scam, however, there are some companies with unethical business practices who use Mechanical Turk to hire workers.

These tips will help you avoid scammers.

1. Stay away from hits that ask for your name, address and credit card details.  Mechanical Turk requests never ask for personal information.

2.  Avoid hits with high pay that appear to be too good to be true.  Ten dollars for a job that takes less than 10 minutes is a sign of a scammer.

3.  Join forums such as Turker Nation and MTurk Forum to interact with other Turk workers, get informed and learn what hits to avoid and what hits are the best.

4.  Download and use the Turkopticon toolbar.  This will allow you to see reviews from other Mechanical Turk workers before you decide to take a hit or not.  See if a requester rejected a MTurk hit without good reason.

Did they pay in reasonable time?  One scam that unethical requesters use is to reject work on the grounds that it is inadequate in order to get out of paying.

Can You Earn Money With Amazon Turk?

Pay per hits are relatively low – usually anywhere from 1 cent to upwards of $5 or more.  In browsing the website the majority of hits that I found were in the 5 cent range.  Most of these tasks only take a few minutes to complete, so earnings can add up quickly.

It’s important to read the instructions carefully in order to complete the hit correctly otherwise you won’t get paid.  If you accept a hit and discover that it’s not worth your time you have the option to return it.

You don’t want to develop a reputation for not completing hits otherwise you will not be accepted for higher paying hit.

Being able to type quickly is a definite asset.  It can take time to become familiar with the site, the type of hits available and what hits give you the best return on time invested.

Some of the higher paying hits require you to complete a usability test in order to be eligible to apply.  Taking time to complete the tests for hits that interest you can help to increase your earning potential.

Amazon keeps track of how much you earn with Mechanical Turk, and it’s important to know that some requesters will not pay you immediately.  Mechanical Turk earnings will appear in your Amazon back office, and you will also be able to see your total if you click on the heading Amazon payments.

You can convert the money to Amazon gift cards for purchases on the Amazon website, or if you prefer to be paid in cash, simply add your bank account information to your Amazon profile.

Amazon Mechanical Turk is a legitimate way to earn money working from home, although earning a full time income from it will be tough (despite reports of people making as high as $400 – $500 per week).

If you’re in need of some extra cash then Amazon Turk maybe a good option for you.  If you’re looking to develop a full-time income while working from home there are definitely better options.

~ Terri
WFHW Team


41 Comments on Is Amazon Mechanical Turk A Scam?

  1. For what it’s worth, I’ve had nothing but good experiences with Mturk. It’s not perfect by any means- Amazon’s “We are just a third party” mentality means that there isn’t much in the way of oversight in disputes between workers and requesters, and there is no dedicated Customer Service for Mturk itself. But my weekly paychecks from Mturk are actually larger than they were from my “Real” job.

  2. I registered last night for mturk. I am in the US and still waiting on approval. I did notice while signing up that they only allows persons in the US to mturk. If you didn’t see it, it was because you weren’t reading. And I imagine that’s exactly what they are trying to avoid. People who have no attention to detail or openly disregard policies.

    • Hi Deedee,

      Thanks for stopping by, and yes it now seems that they only allow US citizens to join Mturk.

      Regards,

      Marcus
      WFHW

  3. Amazon are doing international users a disservice. It’s clear that all international users (outside the USA) are now being declined – this despite the website and application process having no mention of this. Why Amazon simply cannot say on their website that the are not accepting international users is beyond me. Amazon are setting the wrong expectation and wasting peoples time. I have setup a blog and hope that people will comment on this blog. Hopefully if it gets enough exposure then it’ll appear highly in search results and people can be warned before wasting their time applying – also hopefully it’ll persuade Amazon to improve the website and admit that international users are not welcome.

    • Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences, Tan, and you raise a very valid point.

      I received a couple of emails last month from people who are unable to join for the same reason, so something is clearly going on, and as you say, it would save a lot of problems if they mentioned this on the actual website.

      Best of luck with your blog, Tan!

      Marcus
      WFHW

  4. Hello,

    In completing the remainder of the registration process, i see it asks for your social security #. Why is that exactly needed and is it trustworthy to provide that on an online site?

  5. I have worked on M-Turk site and have something to say that is not good. Working for Mechanical Turk for over 3 months and I built up a good amount of money and suddenly my account was suspended and I was not allowed in my account to get my money. Basically I have been ripped off. They just suspend you and take away access to all the money you earned. Everything I did that I was waiting for payment for is gone too. No reason given, no answers to my emails as to why. I even called and can get no where with getting access back. So Beware. They will rip you off. I am still fighting to try to get the money I worked for and spent hours in front of the computer to do.

    • Hi Brea Vee,

      Sorry to hear about your experiences with Amazon Turk, and do let us know if they get back to you and resolve this situation. It definitely seems unfair to suspend your account without any explanation. Please keep us updated with your progress.

      All the best,

      Marcus
      WFHW

    • There’s only two instances I’ve seen them ban someone – when there is a discrepancy in the name on the bank account and your name on the Mturk account.

      However, I would NEVER let money build up for “over three months”.

      OR when there are so many rejects and blocks from requesters (especially in 3 months) where it is beneficial to “fire” you.

      • Stephen thanks for stopping by to share your expertise on Amazon Mechanical Turk.

        All the best,

        Terri
        WFHW Team

      • I would like to thank you for your input as I am just starting out with Mturk. Your experience demonstrates valid input on Brea Vee’s situation, highlights red flags to me.

        Thanks again!

  6. I have a dialogue box on Turk that says “You must provide your tax information before you can accept any more HITs. Providing your tax information will help ensure that you receive the appropriate tax reporting documentation from a Requester if you reach the tax reporting threshold. Please see the FAQ to learn more.” Is this legitimate? It is asking for a social.

  7. I have just received an email to start mturk and looking at the available HITS, I just don’t see it worth my time. For example, one company pays you $4.00 to write a 600 word article about the type of real estate listed in the keyword for Fountain Hills, AZ. They give you 6 hours to write it. So basically you have 6 hours to research, write an original article and hope that they approve your article…. Just to get paid $4.00. To me, you would have to be an idiot to do this. Even if you can type fast and do the article in an hour, you would still be making $4.00 an hour (less than minimum wage), just so some company can use your hard work to make themselves a profit. And if your article gets rejected, there went up to 6 hours of your time and nothing to show for it. And if it does get approved, you have put in as many as 6 hours worth of time to barely buy a 12 pack of sodas. To me this is bad business. It should be a win-win situation for both the company and the writer.

    • Hi Chris

      The pay for hits with Mechanical Turk is relatively low. There are people who are willing to work for these wages. If you find that Mechanical Turk is not for you that’s okay, there are definitely other opportunities available that pay better.

      You may want to take a look at our recommendations page to find more profitable work from home opportunities http://www.workfromhomewatchdog.com/our-recommendations.

      All the best,
      Terri
      WFHW

  8. Ramachandra Gowda // October 19, 2012 at 4:34 pm // Reply

    Hi
    Thanks for giving more information about Amazon Mechanical Turk
    and please i am requesting you to give me a some more information of other website like mechanical turk

  9. I know MTurk has it’s problems…and severe ones at that. It’s doesn’t correctly count the jobs or “HITS” you do. So you are expecting to make a certain amount of money when it’s really going somewhere else right under your nose. I don’t know if it’s a technical or legal problem, but it is a problem. It had so much promise as being a fun way to make money, but something went wrong along the way. All I can say about it now is that I’ve spent 10 hours on it the past few days and have lost dozens of dollars…=(

    I’ll probably run some scripts on the site and double check what I have submitted and haven’t been paid for as it’s only respectful. But if a problem like the one I think I’m having goes public, something has to be done about it. Too much time and energy went into my work, I need proper ‘compensation’. I’m not whining.

    • Hi Ryan

      Thanks for stopping by. Sorry to hear that you are having challenges with Amazon Mechanical Turk.

      Have you contacted Mechanical Turk about this problem?

      All the best,

      Terri
      WFHW

  10. Thanks for the good article. I have a problem about Amazon mechanical turk. I had an account and all my works on AMT were submitted. after few days I earned 1 $, I transferred it to my amazon gift card account.but after few weeks i saw my account.there are no any amount on my gift card account. furthermore no any trace about my old works on my amazon mechanical truk account .what should I do?
    thanks

  11. Kesavamoorthy // September 5, 2012 at 9:59 am // Reply

    Hi Terri,

    Thanks for ur reply..

    i have created a Mturk Account by signing in as a New User… It said i have wait 48 hours for review process…

    Now i got this reply from them..
    “Greetings from Amazon Mechanical Turk,

    We have completed our review of your Amazon Mechanical Turk Worker Account. We regret to inform you that you will not be permitted to work on Mechanical Turk. Thank you for your interest in Mechanical Turk”

    What should i do now…

    • Hi Kesavamoorthy

      I am sorry to hear that you did not meet the requirements to be a worker with Mechanical Turk. Mechanical Turk requires workers that have certain skills so unfortunately not everyone get hired.

      Take a look at our work from home recommendations page http://www.workfromhomewatchdog.com/our-recommendations .

      Most of the opportunities listed do not require a review process. You maybe able to find something that will be better suited for you.

      We wish you all the best in your future endeavors,

      Terri
      WFHW

  12. Kesavamoorthy // September 4, 2012 at 7:21 am // Reply

    Hi Terri,
    Nice to read ur comments… its really very useful..

    Last week only i came to know about Amazon Mturk.. The guy who told me about this says i need to pay Rs.2500/- for creating an account in mturk… is that so…?

    • Hi Kesavamoorthy

      You maybe charged up to 20 cents when you create a Mturk account. This charge is to verify that the account you registered is real. This fee is usually reimbursed.

      All the best,

      Terri
      WFHW

  13. I am from Nigeria,am always online looking for legitimate means of working at home but am frustrated with scam sites and even if I get legit one,it will demand paypal as payment method and paypal did not allow.So am asking if there’s legit site that allows my country and pays with libertyreserve or alertpay?Though I’ll try Mturk too.Your responds is appreciated.

  14. What are your suggestions for better ways to make a full-time income from home?

  15. I know this post is old, but I thought I might be able to get some help here. I signed up for mturk earlier this week and have been using it as a worker and I noticed I have a $1 charge from Amazon on my checking account. Is this charge associated with mturk?

    • Amanda I have heard others who joined Amazon Mechanical Turk mention that their checking account was charged $1 when they joined. I believe Amazon does this to verify your account. See if the money is returned to you in a few days.

      Keep us posted on your progress.

      Terri
      WFHW

  16. “”I will receive all payments (other than gift certificates) to a foreign address or payment instrument.””

    I live in india ,Should i tick the above option or not? (I want my payment at my home)

    • Work From Home Watchdog // May 2, 2012 at 12:50 am // Reply

      Gaurav you can always change your payment options once you’ve signed up.

      Terri
      WFHW Team

  17. thanks a lot for your help.i’m from africa.a full time housewife.i’ve been looking for on line job for about one month.but,unfortunately,almost every site that i applied.will asked for money.luckly for me i don’t have credit cards,i don’t even have bank account.if not for this,i should have lost a lot of money.thank you once again

    • Work From Home Watchdog // April 18, 2012 at 5:55 pm // Reply

      You’re very welcome Asiya!

      I appreciate how difficult it must be in your position, and I hope that this review and others on the site will help you to find something suitable.

      All the best,

      Marcus
      WFHW Team

  18. Barb Johnson // April 13, 2012 at 3:09 am // Reply

    I would like to know HOW to convert my earnings into Amazon gift cards.

    • Work From Home Watchdog // April 13, 2012 at 9:07 am // Reply

      Hi Barb,

      This is according to the Amazon Mechanical Turk website FAQ section:

      “Select the “Account Settings” link from the Mechanical Turk web site. Choose the “Transfer your earnings to your bank account or to your Amazon.com gift certificate balance” option and enter your password when prompted.”

      Hope this helps to solve the issue for you :)

      Marcus
      WFHW Team

  19. Carole Tee // April 12, 2012 at 6:00 pm // Reply

    Great article. Glad you told people that they should not give out any personal information. This includes a phone number. Some scammers will charge services or apps to one’s phone bill that were never ordered. If that happens, people should call their phone company and have the charges removed.

    • Work From Home Watchdog // April 12, 2012 at 6:37 pm // Reply

      Thanks Carole :)

      Yes, not giving out personal information is VERY important. The scammers always seem to be one step ahead of us with things like this, so it pays to be vigilant.

      Great advice, and thanks again for taking the time!

      Marcus
      WFHW Team

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