Education » Articles » Beware of Secret Shopper Scams
Beware of Secret Shopper Scams
The secret shopper scam has become more common and has recently hit UW Credit Union members and branches. Scammers have preyed upon consumers for countless years. Sometimes, even the savviest of consumers can be duped because scammers are constantly coming up with new ways to take advantage of people.
What is a secret shopper scam?
A person responds to an ad looking for a secret or mystery shopper. The "company" then sends an employment packet to the consumer. The packet may include forms, a training assignment, and a cashier's check, often for thousands of dollars. The training assignment sometimes will involve testing secret shopper services at a store or two (just to make it seem legit) then cash the check at a bank or credit union. From there, people are told to go pose as a customer, and wire the money to their "relative" at an address, often internationally. The company tells them that they have only 48 hours to complete the assignment or they will lose the job.
The scam is that the check is a fake. The check bounces after the person wires the money, leaving the person liable for the funds on the fake check.
What can you do to avoid being scammed?
Even though there are some legitimate secret shopper jobs, keep these tips in mind to avoid becoming a victim:
- There is no legitimate reason why anyone would give you a check or money order and ask you to wire money in return.
- Just because funds are available on a check you've deposited doesn't mean the check is good. You are liable for all fund transactions on a fake check.
- Be skeptical of any secret shopper jobs that advertise on the radio, in the classified ads or unsolicited email. Legitimate secret shopper companies generally do not advertise in this manner.
- Don't pay a company to hire you, not even if such payment is presented as you're buying necessary training materials, obtaining required certification or registering with databases of available mystery shoppers. Remember, if the process involves your sending your "employers" money, it's probably a scam.
- If the company does not have an established office near you, be very cautious. Most secret shopper scams originate in foreign countries. If you have questions about the legitimacy of a job listing, contact the Better Business Bureau, your state or local consumer agency or the Federal Trade Commission.
More Fraud Prevention Articles »