October 21, 2021

Mystery Shopping Scams: How to Spot an Undercover Shopper Scam

Mystery shopping positions can be fun and provide an additional income while doing something which is an enjoyable activity. However, as with all industries, there are those out there who are looking to make a quick buck at the expense of those who sign up for scam secret shopper positions.

Secret Shopper Positions: Genuine Mystery Shopper Jobs

Despite the number of mystery shopper scams, the mystery shopping industry is a genuine one offering prospective candidates the opportunity to get paid to go shopping. Here are a few factors to consider when looking for a genuine opportunity:

  • Registration – Check if a company is registered with the relevant authority, in the UK this is Companies House. Official registration in no way guarantees the legitimacy of an operation, however, it is always a positive sign.
  • Rates of Pay – Being a mystery shopper can be a lucrative experience, however, it is unlikely to make an individual rich. Consider whether the level of remuneration being offered is a fair reflection of what is being asked.
  • Task Requirements – Mystery shoppers may be required to buy small items, however, genuine mystery shopping opportunities will focus upon the observation of the retail environment and the post mystery shopping report.

The Secret Shopper Scam: Spotting Secret Shopper Fraud Operations – The Mystery Shoppers Providers Association (MSPA)

If considering a mystery shopping position then the following elements may indicate a secret shopper fraud or mystery shopping scam operation:

  • Upfront Payments – A common sign of a mystery shopping scam is the offering of upfront payments, usually in the form of a cheque or bank wire. This is usually a sign of a scam operation, as with most forms of employment mystery shopping agencies will usually pay in arrears.
  • Unsolicited Opportunities – Mystery shopping is an industry which does not lack candidates, be skeptical of any unsolicited opportunities especially those made via email. Finding a genuine mystery shopper position will usually require the individual to go out and find the job.
  • Fees – Never pay fees to a mystery shopping agency or for a training package related to a mystery shopping agency, these are both signs of a secret shopper scam operation. While there are qualifications related to the mystery shopping industry, these should be sought from a reputable and established educational institution.
  • If in Doubt – If in doubt about a mystery shopping agency or secret shopper opportunity, then do further research. A good starting place may be to contact the Mystery Shoppers Providers Association (MSPA).

In summary, a common sense approach will see that many mystery shopping scams can easily be avoided. In short, the old adage if it looks too good to be true then it probably is may be the best advice. If looking for a secret shopper position, never pay for the prospect of work and consider making enquiries with reputable organisation such as the Mystery Shoppers Providers Association (MSPA).

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