How to Spot a Mystery Shopping Scam

Mystery shoppers are prime targets for scam artists. Most mystery shoppers are aware of their target-status and keep their eyes wide open for scams. However, scam artists have gotten even smarter in recent years, and even the most diligent mystery shopper may still fall victim to a scam if they aren’t careful. Here are some prime strategies for spotting mystery shopping scams today:

Too Good to Be True. The old adage of, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is” rings true for mystery shoppers. There certainly a few premier mystery shopping assignments that take you to luxury hotels, amusement parks, fine dining establishments, and more. These are highly coveted assignments, though, and mystery shopping providers don’t just hand these out to anyone. Typically these assignments are given to mystery shoppers by schedulers they have worked with regularly and have developed a relationship with. If someone you don’t know approaches you with a cushy assignment that sounds too good to be true, it probably is. This is probably an assignment that’s too good not to explore further, but you should definitely proceed with caution.

Check It Out. Many scam artists today are backed by copy cat business names. They may have a business name that sounds very similar to a company you are working with, or they even have copied the entire business name and logo. This makes it very hard for a mystery shopper today to know if there is a scam involved or not. If you are approached for an assignment that sounds a little too good, head to the company’s website. Don’t just click a link on the email they send, but instead do a Google search of their website if you don’t already have it bookmarked. Then, from this website, locate their phone number and ask to speak with the person who sent the email to you. If you do in fact reach someone by that name, they will likely understand your diligence in double checking the information of the assignment.

Post on the Forums. Chances are that other mystery shoppers just like have been approached by a similar offer as the assignment you are questioning. You simply need to post a message on the mystery shopping forums and wait for other mystery shoppers to provide their insight and first-hand knowledge. You may be surprised to find out how many other people have taken advantage of that great assignment and enjoyed a pleasant outcome, or on the flip who have had their pockets emptied and time wasted by taking on that same assignment.

The bottom line is that if something about an assignment is causing you to take a moment’s pause, it is likely for good reason. Before you pass up on the offer or take advantage of the assignment and jump wholeheartedly into it, you will want to do some digging. So first and foremost, trust your instincts. Then take some time to do your own research and ask your fellow mystery shoppers for their feedback and advice on the situation at hand. You will find that a bit of diligence goes a long way in the world of mystery shopping.