Is This a Scam?: What to Look For

Most mystery shoppers become aware of just a few of the scams targeting the mystery shopping industry before they even do their first assignment. There are numerous websites online that offer you mystery shopping training for a fee, a mystery shopping license, and a list of mystery shopping providers for a fee as well. Of course, you don’t a license or special training to be a mystery shopper, and the providers’ list is provided for free. These are simply companies that are preying on your desire to be a mystery shopper. These, however, are just a few of the scams out there that target mystery shoppers, and you do want to know what to look for if you want to steer clear.

Emails From New Companies or Schedulers

Getting an email from a new company that you have not signed up to work with and that you have never heard of can be a red flag. Further, getting an email from a provider who you do work for but from a scheduler you haven’t heard of could possibly be a sign of a scam, too. Of course, providers do hire on new schedulers all of the time, but you will want to read through the email from someone new very carefully before accepting any work from them.

Assignments That Are Too Good to be True

Often when an assignment seems too good to be true, it really is. Many mystery shoppers have been duped into cashing fraudulent checks over the years because the offer promised them a large fee for doing so. This is just one of several scams that continue to go around the mystery shopping world. If the work required doesn’t correspond with the pay, it’s likely in your best interest to turn the other way and run from that offer.

Assignments That Require You To Front Money

This can be a tough one for new mystery shoppers to grasp. Most assignments today do require a mystery shopper to make a small purchase at a store, restaurant, or so forth. The reason for this is because the assignment is designed, at least in part, to check up on the customer service of employees throughout the sales process. Often there is a minimum purchase requirement of $5 or $10, and at least a portion of that will be reimbursed to you later. You may be permitted to keep the item, or you may be required or permitted to return it if there is not an expense reimbursement included in the compensation. These are generally legitimate assignments. However, assignments that require you to make significant use of your own money, such as when you are asked to deposit a check and then immediately write a check for that same amount to a third party before the first check has cleared your account is a red flag.

If you have any questions about a possible scam, perhaps the best thing to do is to hop online and post a question on the mystery shopping forum. Many mystery shoppers who visit the forum regularly have been mystery shopping for years, and their expertise and experience can help you to determine if your job offer is a scam or not.