Scams abound in the mystery shopping field; don’t be fooled

Arizona is the latest state to be hit with an epidemic of mystery shopping scams, where unsuspecting potential employees get taken in by a fake cashier’s check with which to shop.  The victims deposit the check in their own bank and wire the money to the culprit. The culprit gets the actual money long before anyone realizes the check was a fake.

Mystery shopping is a legitimate business, but not when this cashier check scam is involved.  Legitimate mystery shopping firms work with specific businesses on developing programs that send shoppers into their stores, restaurants or other businesses to evaluate customer service and other aspects of the experiences there.  Legitimate mystery shopping firms—also called customer evaluation services—are members of the trade organization Mystery Shopping Providers Association of which Customer Perspectives is a charter member.

Other clues that a mystery shopping offer is probably a scam include

  • ads on the radio or  in a newspaper’s classified or “help wanted” section or through unsolicited email. Legitimate secret shopper companies generally do not advertise for jobs in this manner.
  • “Guarantees” of a job as a mystery, secret, or investigative shopper. A legitimate firm will have criteria you must meet and will screen you before hiring.
  • A requirement that you pay a fee just to apply for a job, or to get access to the job opportunities. Applicants should never pay anybody in order to go to work for them. .
  • Offers from outside of the United States, especially Canada, are suspicious.  It is probably best to work with a firm in the U.S. and, if possible, one that you can visit on your own.

It is always a good idea to do your own research on the company.  Check with the Better Business Bureau and do detailed Internet searches. You should be able to tell legitimate companies from scams. You can see more about mystery shopping scans at the Federal Trade Commission:

If you’re interested in working with Customer Perspectives, see “Become A Shopper” here: