Mystery shopper con artists and scammers are always lurking around the internet, your telephone, and your mailbox. So it’s very important to understand how they operate. Like most cons, mystery shopper scams can come in many different combinations.
The following are some of the Most Common Mystery Shopper Scams you might encounter:
We Overpaid You Scam
One of the most common mystery shopping scams includes getting a potential victim to hand over their name and mailing address. They do this under the guise that the fake company needs to advance the shopper some money for an assigned job.
Then the target receives a check in an amount that is more than they were expecting. The representative from the fake company instructs them to deposit it into their personal bank account and then wire back the surplus amount.
Then the check bounces and the victim is out ant money they wired to the scammer. The money will never be seen again. The U.S. Postal Service is warning people that the scammers also involve unsolicited mailings inviting you to become a mystery shopper.
Pay Us First To Find You The Best Shops Scam
We are all looking for experienced assistance when we take on something new and foreign. This con plays upon that desire to get guidance when trying to navigate through the up to thousands of mystery shopping jobs that are available across the internet.
These phony companies will promise to find you best, most fun, and of course highest-paying jobs in your area. And they will do this for an upfront fee. They will claim that they have special search capabilities, access to mystery shops that aren’t advertised online, or that they recruit for best mystery shopping companies.
Legitimate mystery shopping companies don’t use recruiters, hide their jobs from their applicants, or obligate you to use special search tools to find shopping jobs. Don’t believe a word they say and drop them immediately.
The Specific Invitation Scam
One way the scammers find many of their victims is through job boards and job search websites. The important part is that this is where people can post their resumes in an effort to find a job. Scammers will use the information from their target’s resume and bio. They do this to personalize their pitch to specific job seekers. This enables the scammer to concentrate on the job seeker’s previous experience and personal information. This makes the invitation sound more realistic and legitimate.
Make $10,000 A Month Scam
Mystery Shopping opportunities have been around for many years. As a kid working in a Jack in the Box in the late 1960s, we were mystery shopped a few times a month. But the job is usually not meant to be a full time earner but a way to supplement one’s income. It is true that some shops may net you anywhere from $50 to $75, but those opportunities are very rare. You will make more like $10 to $20 for most mystery shopping jobs or just some free product of some type.
Now that you are armed with that knowledge, you should be highly suspicious of any company that promises that you will make enough money to drive around in a Lexus or to retire to your beach house in Hawaii.
How To Protect Yourself From Mystery Shopping Scams
New mystery shopping scams are popping up all the time. So the best way to protect yourself is to go on the offensive and be proactive. When deciding whether or not to apply for mystery shopper job, you can keep these tips in mind.
1. Do your research and due diligence. This is really the number one way to protect yourself from scams. Do internet searches on the shopping companies and add words like “scams” or “reviews” in the search box . There are many websites devoted to listing the legitimate mystery shopping companies. You can also check out them out with Better Business Bureau by running them through the BBB Scam Tracker.
2. Do not respond to Mystery Shopping Companies that actually find you, not you searching for them. Do not reply to any unsolicited emails about mystery shopping, no matter how tempting they seem. If you receive any USPS mail with mystery shopper offers that you didn’t apply for, toss them in the trash. If a mystery offer comes by phone, simply hang up.
Legitimate mystery shopping companies will not spend the time and money recruiting shoppers by way of cold calls and emails to random people all around the country.
3. Hold on to your hard-earned money. You goal is to make money as a mystery shopper, not spend it. If the mystery shopping company asks you for money in exchange for plum assignments, application fees, or background checks, they are not legitimate and they are out to scam you.
The Federal Trade Commission actually says it most accurately: “It’s important to remember that legitimate companies don’t charge people to work for them. They will pay people to work for them.
What to Do If You Spot a Mystery Shopping Scam
If you think you find what is a fake mystery shopping company during your job search, you don’t need to interact with them. You should just report them. You can:
- Utilize the BBB Scam Tracker reporting tool
- Notify your state Attorney General
- Alert the Federal Trade Commission
These folks are the experts in handling this type of situation. It is best to file a complaint and return to the process of finding a legitimate mystery shopper job.
You should know that mystery shopper scams can happen any time, but will usually occur more frequently amid economic downturns and at certain times of the year. There is usually an increase in incidents during the holidays. This is because people are looking to make some extra income for holiday shopping. The scammers will often use this same season as part of their pitch to sound more legitimate. They do this by stating that extra people are needed for these secret shopper positions during the holiday shopping season, because companies want to provide excellent customer service for their customer.
Being an educated and vigilant consumer is the best weapon to protect yourself from being a victim of the Fake Mystery Shopper Scam.
Thanks very much for taking the time to read this post. I hope it provides useful information or helped the reader in some way. Please feel free to pass it on to someone who can use the info. Please leave any Comments or Questions below. If you know of a scam that needs attention, please leave the details in the Comment section and I will be glad to investigate.