Mystery shopper scam
There are legitimate companies who send shoppers into stores to evaluate the quality of the experience. These people are called mystery shoppers. Unfortunately, there are also plenty of scams that look like legitimate companies.
It works like this
At best, being a mystery shopper is a part-time side job that brings in little income. Mystery shoppers typically are paid a small amount, reimbursed for their purchases, and get to keep the item they purchased. Be suspicious of ads that advertise mystery shopping as a gateway to a higher paying career. Avoid websites that ask you to “register” to be a mystery shopper, or offer a certification program – for a fee, of course. Particularly, avoid any jobs that ask you to evaluate a wire transfer service, like Western Union. In that scam, the employer will send you a check and instruct you to deposit it in your account and wire it back to them. When the check bounces, and it will, you will be responsible for repaying the financial institution.
The warning signs
You don’t need to lay out your own money to be a Mystery Shopper. There are countless legitimate opportunities to be found if this is something you want to try. Also, never accept a check from someone with the understanding that you’ll wire the money back to them. Finally, don’t accept assignments from a company that offers to pay in advance, then wants you to wire money to them.
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