How Do You Know If A Mystery Shopper Is Legit? US Regulators Guidelines
If you enjoy going out to eat, shopping, or trying new products or services, the thought of getting paid to participate in these activities and share your experiences may be very enticing.
The customer should exercise caution when considering "secret shopper" or "mystery shopper" work possibilities, as many of them are frauds that want your money rather than your feedback. But how do you know if a mystery shopper is legit? This guide has the answer.
Some retail and market research firms do employ individuals to travel to businesses like shops, eateries, lodging facilities, golf courses, and tourist destinations and provide feedback on factors like customer service, facility upkeep, and product mix.
The Mystery Shoppers Professional Association (MSPA), a trade association for businesses that gather such customer-experience data, can help you locate legitimate secret shopper employment.
In a real secret shopping job, you'll typically get paid a little fee in addition to getting reimbursed for the money you spend at the companies you're reviewing.
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The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) points out that it's often part-time or irregular labor, not a substitute for a full-time job.
On employment boards and social media, con artists post advertisements for mystery shopping jobs.
They can also contact their targets directly by phone, text, email, or paper mail. They might utilize a false corporate name, pose as reputable research organizations, well-known companies, or even the MSPA itself.
They'll exaggerate the job's potential earnings and, more importantly, demand money up ahead for things like training, certification, or lists of shop-for-pay chances.
Another typical tactic is for the con artist to give you a check or money order for many thousand dollars to pay for your salary and whatever else you're supposed to buy.
The cash will be deposited into your bank account, and you'll be asked to return a portion of the money through wire transfer or gift cards to pay for any applicable taxes or administrative fees.
The cheque and the shopping gig will turn out to be forgeries, but by the time you learn this, the con artists have already made off with your money.
Some stores and restaurants pay people to visit their establishments, test their goods or services, and write reviews in order to learn more about their patrons' experiences.
These "mystery shoppers," also known as "secret shoppers," frequently purchase the good or service themselves and then receive reimbursement from the merchant.
Additionally, the merchant will occasionally give them a small bonus for their efforts.
Your ability to earn a lot of money as a secret shopper is guaranteed by a job posting or an unauthorized phone, text, or email.
To begin a secret shopper job, you must pay up in advance. You get a check or money order from your fictitious employer, with instructions to deposit it in your account and give back a percentage to the sender.
Do your research before accepting a job as a secret shopper at a company. Look for the company's name online along with phrases like "review," "complaint," or "scam."
Do compare the work to the MSPA Americas' online database of recorded scams.
Before depositing any checks you get for secret shopper services, be cautious to verify their legitimacy by contacting the issuing bank named on the check.
Call the U.S. Postal Service's verification line or go to the organization's verification guidelines if you were "paid" with a money order.
Do exercise caution while deciding on the information to include in a secret shopper application.
Scammers try to collect personal data from you so they may steal your identity.
Even if you are told that the price is for training or required credentials, avoid paying it in order to be a mystery shopper.
Genuine research companies won't charge you to apply for a position with them.
Never pay for a list of opportunities to be a mystery shopper
Never think a job as a secret shopper is authentic just because it involves a well-known chain of shops or restaurants.
Scammers frequently attempt to persuade you that they are connected to important corporations.
As part of a secret shopper assignment, avoid wire transfers and gift card purchases. If you are given instructions to do this, you can be sure you are dealing with a scammer.
Don't apply for mystery shopping positions that offer a money-back guarantee. These promises are only made by con artists.
And only con artists claim that you'll be able to quit your work and devote all of your time to this.
Most mystery shopping jobs are part-time and don't pay enough to take the place of full-time employment.
Always notify the mystery shopping company of what happened before submitting your report. Even if you occasionally make blunders that could compromise your identity, the mere fact that someone asked if you were a mystery shopper does not mean you did anything wrong.
There are real mystery shopper companies, unlike many frauds, but they never promote or seek candidates by email. When a target clicks on the recruiting email, the con artists send them a fake bank check, which they instruct the victim to deposit and spend for their "mystery" shopping.
They may have extensive knowledge of your goods and services or little to no knowledge. Either they have previously transacted with you or they have never done so. They may be someone you know from somewhere or you've never met; they may even work nearby. They had a change of heart.
Look up the firm name online along with "review," "complaint," or "scam." Before looking for a mystery shopper, learn what others are saying about them. Additionally, get the advice of a trusted friend before accepting the offer.