One of the biggest nightmares a mystery shopper can face is falling victim to a scam artist’s schemes. Scam artists have been getting more cunning and deceptive in recent years, making it difficult for even the most careful mystery shoppers to tell scammers apart from legitimate mystery shopping companies and job opportunities. There are a few extra steps you can take to help protect you from scam artists.
Do Some Research. Some scam artists will set up a website and wait for you to approach them, and some of these types of scammers have gotten more creative in recent years by developing a web presence and even a cover business name similar to that of a legitimate company. Other scam artists will attempt to contact you directly with their illegitimate job offer. These scam artists may also have a cover business name that appears to be legitimate on the surface.
If you are considering working with someone you have never worked with before, do some research on your own to cover your bases before you commit to any work or divulge any information. Research on the web and see if anything negative has been written about them. Check with the Better Business Bureau in that area or the Attorney General’s office for the state the company is located in to see if any negative reports have been filed against them. Go a step beyond and ask your fellow mystery shoppers for their feedback on the new company by posting a question on the online forums. Check with the Mystery Shopping Providers Association (MSPA) and ensure that company is legitimately registered with the industry’s main association.
Because these scammers have gotten creative with using names similar to those of legitimate companies, take some time to research the business address and ensure it corresponds with that listed with the Better Business Bureau. If you are contacted by email, research the company’s phone number on internet and call that number rather than one provided in the email to verify the job information.
When In Doubt. There are times when, on the surface, everything may appear to check out but you feeling that something just isn’t right. As with most things in life, mystery shoppers will do better to follow their instincts and avoid a situation that just plain doesn’t feel right. Keep in mind that if the job is typical, you won’t be missing out on too much money by skipping one job. If the job offer is a lucrative option, chances are the offer is probably too good to be legitimate for the mystery shopping industry. It’s much better to lose out on a few bucks by passing an iffy job prospect up than risk losing thousands of dollars to a tricky scam artist.
If you feel that you’ve been approached by a scam artists, or worse, if you have fallen victim their a scam artist’s ploys, there are some steps you need to take immediately. First, contact the Federal Trade Commission and alert your local authorities. If mail was involved in the scam, you will need to contact the US Postal Service as well. Then go a step beyond contacting the authorities and take a measure to help prevent others from falling victim to this scam artists. Take a moment to post your experiences about this scam online at the mystery shopping community’s online forums to alert other mystery shoppers about this predator.