Beware Mystery Shopping Scams
Opportunities abound for rewarding work as a secret shopper, with more and more companies turning to mystery shopping to gather valuable information about how their services and products are perceived by customers. The internet provides a way for would-be secret shoppers to connect with legitimate mystery shopping providers and opportunities; however, as with all situations that don’t involve a face-to-face interaction, there is need to pay special caution when signing up for mystery shopping jobs online.
The occasional scammer has been known to lurk in the shadows or masquerade as a legitimate shopping provider, seeking to take advantage of people who are new to the terrain or unfamiliar with the specifics of mystery shopping.
There are various forms in which a mystery shopping scam can present itself. Most of these scams even look like legit mystery shopping jobs at first. Some con artists go as far as publishing job openings in the local newspaper; others send spam emails and claim to recruit mystery shoppers for mystery shopping companies. Fake shopping providers may ask aspiring mystery shoppers to pay to access mystery shopping jobs or certifications.
In another common scenario, scammers send a fake check to the unsuspecting would-be shopper, instructing him or her to quickly deposit the check and wire a portion of the money to a 3rd party account. The eager shopper wires the money from his or her own resources, expecting that the check will clear, but soon finds himself or herself short-changed and possibly liable for fraud!
You’re probably wondering, “How do I avoid being a victim of these horrible scams?” Have no fear. With the right information, you can successfully navigate the world of mystery shopping without falling prey to scams.
If It Seems Too Good to Be True…
Remember that old saying, “If something seems too good to be true, then it’s too good to be true.” Beware of “Mystery Shopping companies” that promise you a mystery shopping job without a screening process or send you money without having worked. Don’t go into business with mystery shopping promoters who just seem off.
Familiarize Yourself with Legitimate Providers
It’s been said that the best way to recognize a fake is to become thoroughly familiar with the real deal – the original. The same goes for mystery shopping. Keep yourself continuously informed of news and updates in the field, and familiarize yourself with the ways and means of legitimate firms. MSPA Americas – usually referred to simply as the MSPA – offers a comprehensive database of vetted firms, which you can use to verify the legitimacy of a company before you take up a mystery shopping opportunity it offers.
Also, as you expand the range of mystery shopping opportunities you pursue, you will get better at identifying those likely to pan out and those that aren’t. If you’re pursuing mystery shopping as a profession, attend conferences and networking events targeted at mystery shoppers and companies in the customer service sphere; and don’t just pick up flyers but be deliberate to actually interact with company representatives.
It would help if you kept a list of firms you have registered with and/or obtain shops through, discover during your research, hear about from other shoppers, or interact with in any other way. Make notes about your experiences or findings regarding each one. Very soon, you will have your own repertoire of vetted firms that offer mystery shopping opportunities.
What to Do If You Suspect A Mystery Shopping Scam
So what do you do if you ever suspect a mystery shopping scam during your job search? What you want to do is to waste no time in reporting them, so other people don’t fall victim to the same trap. Here are some experts you may contact to handle it: