Free Money Apps: Are They Too Good To Be True?


Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Erin Smith, Centurion Staff

An app seen on Snapchat created by Smartwallet is targeting young people especially in college with its promises of paying members for doing nothing.
Smartwallet is a news-like website dedicated to providing its followers with cheap deals and ways to make and save money.
The ads tagline is “How to Literally Get Paid to do Nothing if You’re 20.”
Following the link to the advertisement shows a list of apps claiming to help you make money, including one called the Panel App. Panel is a mobile app that pays you money and other rewards by simply letting the app run in the background while you use your cell phone regularly.
According to its description on the App Store, members can earn points on the app by sharing your location with the app, taking “location-based surveys”, and referring friends and family members to join Panel App as well.
They also share at the very end that the Panel App “measures device data, including apps and location, for the purpose of market research and analysis.” So, while the app emphasizes on members sharing their location and taking surveys to make money, it also collects the info you use from your apps while it silently runs in the background on your phone.
While there aren’t any incidents including privacy known to date, Bucks students still remain skeptical of using apps like this.
18-year-old biology major Megan Smith from Langhorne shared her opinion on the app, “It seems very shady to me, because I know the internet isn’t a very trustworthy place. Anybody could make an app like that and promise to pay me. It just sounds too good to be true.”
Another student. Molly Burs, a 20-year-old art history major from Philadelphia, shares that she is most of all creeped out by the prospect, and dubiously asks the question, “What do they want to know about me? What are they trying to find out that is so important to them?”
Besides the skeptics concerning whether or not your privacy will still be unharmed after installing the app, the way that members are paid or rewarded is also deemed sketchy.
The ad by Smartwallet claims that you get paid by doing nothing. However, it seems that the app does not actually pay you in money at all.
A man named Brok, who runs a blog called “Full Time Job From Home” where he shares his experiences with money-rewarding apps and websites in hopes of informing followers about which ones are scams and which ones are actually the real deal, wrote an entry on the Panel App and how it works.
Brok shares that as a Panel App user, he was able to exchange the points he earned for rewards, but the rewards he received were gift cards for services like Amazon priced as high as $5. Users used to be able to cash out their earnings using PayPal, but this option was retired for unknown reasons.
Brok shares, “…this won’t be a big income. If you invite some friends or win some Sweepstakes, you can earn more, but a $5-$15 monthly income is what you’ll be looking at with this app.”
With so much access to app information and little reward why are people actually willing to sign up for apps like these?
According to Andrew Scully, an 18-year-old computer science major from Deptford NJ, “People always think they’ll be able to get money without working for it. I have to admit, it is good marketing, creating these ads for young people who most likely go to college because we are the group of people are perceived to be the most broke and are always looking for opportunities to get cash.”
While it seems like these apps are advertised to young people and students to take advantage of their financial situation, it’s safe to assume that this group of people are not so easily swayed by these promises of “free money.”