If you are new to mystery shopping, you are likely extra vigilant about scams, and for good reason. For years, scam artists have preyed on mystery shoppers and would-be mystery shoppers alike, trying to turn a quick buck by conning and tricking honest people who simply want to make some extra cash. In fact, the mystery shopping industry is so plagued by scams that many people who don’t work in the business actually believe that mystery shopping in and of itself is a scam, and that there are no legitimate mystery shopping jobs to be found!
While there are quite a few scam artists that are targeting mystery shoppers just like you, fortunately there are far more legitimate jobs that offer you a convenient way to earn some extra cash. As a mystery shopper, it pays to be diligent and to always be aware of the possibility that a scam artists may be approaching you. Here are some of the things to look out for:
Check Cashing Scams. Check cashing scams have been around for years, and scam artists are still using this old trick to steal hundreds and even thousands of dollars from unsuspecting mystery shoppers. The scam involves the mystery shopping being asked to deposit a large check into their account and then quickly write a check for the same amount and send it off to the scam artist. Some deviations of this involve the mystery shopper wiring the funds out of his or her account. The cover story that the mystery shopper is told may be that they are shopping the bank teller. However, the trick is really on the mystery shopper when the first check that was deposited into the account doesn’t clear, but the second check that the mystery shopper wrote does clear! Keep in mind that legitimate bank assignments do exist, but you will not be required to deposit the “provider’s” check , write the provider a check for a legitimate assignment, or wire funds out of your account.
Too Good To Be True. If you have been mystery shopping for even a few days, you likely have realized that the vast majority of mystery shopping assignments don’t pay a ton of money. If you stumble across a great find by searching the job boards, you are likely OK completing that assignment. However, if you get a special email announcing a fabulous assignment, beware. This is true even if you recognize the company name as the name of a provider you currently work for. Some scam artists have been copycatting legitimate providers, even stealing their company name and setting up bogus email accounts that look incredibly similar to real provider’s email accounts. If you receive a suspicious email that you aren’t sure about, find the number of the provide on a separate email or website and give them a call to verify the assignment details. Keep in mind that the bogus email you received likely has a link to a bogus website and even a bogus phone number. So locate that provider’s number from your other sources, such as previous emails they have sent you or the normal website that you visit to search for jobs and so forth.
When in doubt, it’s always a good idea to hop onto the mystery shopping forums online and ask your fellow mystery shoppers about the job in question. Chances are, other mystery shoppers reading your forum post have either successfully completed the assignment and can offer you assurance, or they have knowledge that the job in question is a scam and can steer you clear of it.