Secret shopper job sounds cool, but it’s a scam
The Better Business Bureau serving the Canton and Greater West Virginia area offers tips and advice for consumers to avoid fraudulent practices.
You’ve been invited to visit a favorite retailer to secretly shop at their store and rate the quality of service, product availability, and best of all: keep items and earn a paycheck. It sounds too good to be a real opportunity, however, such work does exist and is sanctioned by the Mystery Shopping Providers Association. Naturally, for every good opportunity, there is a scam behind it.
Fake ads are here
Newspaper advertisements, email solicitations, and online contextual advertisements give the impression that mystery shopping jobs are the path to personal wealth and well-paying jobs at reputable companies. Fake websites are created where people can sign up to become a mystery shopper, but first, and this is where the scam begins, you have to pay a fee for a certification program, a directory of mystery shopping businesses or a guarantee of mystery shopper work.
The other key giveaway is the direct solicitation received via email that the recipient has been hired by a company as a secret client. The first task is to evaluate a wire transfer service. If they respond, they’ll receive a check in the mail with instructions to deposit it into their account, withdraw a certain amount of cash, and wire it to a third party. It’s never a good idea to deposit a check from someone you don’t know and then wire money to another address. You will be responsible for bank charges and unforeseen consequences afterwards.
Legit purchases are free
Legit companies don’t pay people to work for them – they pay people to work for them. It’s definitely worth taking a few minutes to research the internet for reviews and comments on mystery shopping companies that accept online applications. Just be sure to go past the homepage and look at the company itself on bbb.org to see what others are saying.
Check it with the source
Visit the MSPA directly to search a database of mystery shopping assignments, how to apply and what the benefits are. Take note that the association offers certifications for a fee, but they are not required to search or apply for assignments in its database.
See a scam, report it
Avoid doing business with mystery shopping promoters who advertise in a wanted help section in a newspaper or direct email, require payment for certification or charge additional fees, or sell business directories. companies that hire mystery shoppers. If you suspect a secret or mystery shopper scam, report it to the Federal Trade Commission, State Attorney General’s Office, or BBB’s Scam Tracker.