3 Ways to Spot a Mystery Shopping Scam
Mystery Shopping is a tool that is used by many of the largest and most successful brands in the world to help them understand and improve their customer experience. It is also a great way for people to make a little money on the side or get reimbursed for purchases they would have made anyway. If mystery shopping is something you are interested in, it is important to know how to identify legitimate shopping opportunities and avoid being scammed.
Here are three ways to easily identify a mystery shopping scam and what you can do if you spot one:
Never Pay to Perform a Shop or Access Assignments
Legitimate mystery shopping companies will never require you to pay to register, get a certification, or access shopping assignments. Any business that claims you have to pay in advance for such things is a scam and should be reported to the Federal Trade Commission or your state’s attorney general’s office. You can also research any potential company by looking up their rating with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) or Mystery Shopping Providers Association (MSPA). The MSPA provides a database of recognized mystery shopping companies and they also have additional information to help keep you informed and safe.
Never Accept Payment Before Completing a Shop
Offering large payment sums in advance is another way many scammers try to trick potential shoppers. These “too good to be true” offers are tempting but don’t be fooled. Legitimate companies will wait until you have completed all requirements of a shop before sending out reimbursements and/or payment directly to you via Paypal or direct deposit.
Don’t Accept Wire Transfers or Deposit Checks Sent to You in Advance
This is one of the most common scams in the mystery shopping industry. A company says they’re looking for shoppers to go buy gift cards at a major retailer. They send you money in advance to cover your costs and ask that you upload photos of the front and back of these gift cards to your report. This is a BIG red flag and should not be trusted! It takes a few weeks for your bank to identify those checks/wire transfers as fraudulent, leaving you on the hook for the money you spent. The scammers will also take the images you sent them of the gift cards and move the funds making them impossible to trace or get back.
If you’re ever in doubt of the validity of a mystery shopping company, program, or shop opportunity conduct some internet research. You can search the company name with phrases such as “scam”, “review”, or “complaints.” We want scammers caught and identified as they can tarnish the reputation of creditable mystery shopping companies.
Sign up today to become a mystery shopper for a highly reputable company: Reality Based Group.