Mystery Shopping Scams

Mystery shopping scams

Getting paid to shop – sounds like a dream, doesn’t it?

This is one of those legitimate work at home jobs that gets hidden behind a lot of scams. It should be noted, however, that most mystery shoppers do not make a living at it, and it takes a long time to get the experience needed to get the best jobs.

The scams come in by offering lists of companies that hire mystery shoppers but you have to pay for them. These lists may not even provide the names of real mystery shopping companies. Instead, they will give information for contacting stores that might need mystery shoppers.

Most companies that hire people to do mystery shopping don’t go and hire someone outright to do that job. Instead, they go through a company that has a database of people interested in doing mystery shopping. This gives them a nice list of names so that they can vary who does the shop.

Sometimes the shop will just be a purchase from a given website, with a promise of reimbursement. Don’t trust that you will be reimbursed – it might just be a way to get you to buy something and you’ll never hear from them again.

Another form of mystery shopping scam is where a company contacts you, often completely out of the blue, to do a shop for them. All you have to do is take a cashier’s check they’ll send to you to a bank or check cashing place, cash it, keep a couple hundred for yourself and wire the balance back to them. Easy, right?

Not really. the check is fake, and now you’re on the hook for the entire amount, not just what you kept for yourself. The clues were there if you cared to look for them – the promise of easy money with little effort is almost always a scam.

As I said, however, there are legitimate mystery shopping opportunities out there. These are, of course, work from home jobs as opposed to work at home jobs. Pay isn’t great for a lot of them – often $10 or more plus the cost of whatever they require you to purchase. Keep in mind that pay is often given at the end of the month after you did the shop; that is, up to two months after you spent the money. Not exactly quick money here. Add in drive time and gas at today’s rates, and the pay is nothing special at all.

However, if you get good at it, you can get multiple assignments on the same day in a given area (through different companies if necessary), and cut down on your commute time and other costs. There are some fun shops out there to do.

I have links to companies offering free listings of legitimate mystery shopping companies.

If You Get Scammed

First, try to clear it up with the company. If they are uncooperative, let them know that you will be contacting officials about the matter. Then do it.

  • If you found out about the company on a website, let the site know so that they can take it off their site.
  • Contact the Attorney General in your state or the state the company is in.
  • Contact the BBB, both your local office and in the company’s state.
  • Contact the National Fraud Information Center if this was a “get rich quick” or “easy money” scheme.
  • Your local Consumer Protection Offices.
  • The Postmaster if you received the offer in the mail.
  • The Federal Trade Commission. The FTC has a Complaint Assistant website to help you file your complaint.