Don’t be a Victim of Common Mystery Shopping Scams
Mystery shopping has long been used for market/customer experience research. Unfortunately, there are as many consumer scams as there are legitimate market research companies. Therefore, consumers who are interested in mystery shopping are advised to thoroughly research any company contacting them to perform mystery shops.
Tips for Avoiding Scams
- Be wary of any company which requires you to pay to be a mystery shopper.
- Be wary of any market research company that claims to pay in advance of shop completion.
- Be wary of any mystery shopping assignment with a large reward or cash payment. If it seems too good to be true, it usually is.
- Do not trust unsolicited emails or social media messages if you did not already directly sign up with a legitimate market research company; and do not trust emails that are not originating from a real company email account, i.e. Gmail, Yahoo, etc.
- Do not deposit paper checks into your personal bank account and then wire funds elsewhere and/or purchase gift cards to be forwarded, as this is a common mystery shopping scam.
- Take the time to thoroughly research any market research company you might wish to work with because scammers will often spoof popular mystery shopping company names. Always contact the company directly by doing a web search or searching the MSPA industry trade association website: https://mspa-americas.org/what-is-mspa/search .
- IntelliShop ONLY pays evaluators through PayPal.
- IntelliShop NEVER offers assignments that require check deposits or the purchase and forwarding of gift cards.
- IntelliShop NEVER assigns jobs to evaluators who have not applied through our official websites
- Intellishop ONLY pays evaluators after assignments are completed NOT before.
- For additional information on legitimate mystery shopping companies, visit the Mystery Shopping Providers Association (MSPA) website at www.mysteryshop.org.
What to do if you are a victim of a consumer scam?
- File a report with your local police department. As many consumer scams are considered a federal offense, we recommend that you also file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission:
- If you are the victim of mail fraud, i.e. you received a fake check in the mail, file a complaint with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service by calling 1-877-876-2455, then press option “4” or say “Fraud.” You can also make a report on-line by visiting: https://www.uspis.gov/report/.
- If the scam originated on-line, i.e. you were contacted through social media, please also file a complaint with the Federal Bureau of Investigation: https://www.ic3.gov.
- Lastly, if you want to warn others about the scam, please consider filing a complaint with the National Consumers League: https://www.fraud.org.
Mystery Shopper Recruitment Scam
Unfortunately, another scam has recently emerged. Scammers have purchased the website domain: intelli-shopp.com, and are posing as employees of IntelliShop to recruit and scam evaluators. If you have received an email from what looks like an IntelliShop team member, but has the domain of intelli-shopp.com (with two 'p's), please do not respond. It is not a legitimate offer.
We are in contact with the authorities, as well as MSPA, but we always encourage evaluators to reach out to local authorities as well to have a report filed.
Please be aware that people misrepresenting themselves as employees of IntelliShop have been attempting to recruit individuals to participate in a fraudulent mystery shopping program. The scammers are recruiting on LinkedIn, ZipRecruiter, as well as other job posting sites. They have gone as far as creating fake websites to recruit shoppers/victims. The scams vary slightly, but the overarching structure is the same. After signing up, a packet is mailed to participants in this “program”. Included in the packet is a check or money order, which is to be deposited into the shopper/victim’s bank account. A portion of the funds is to be wired to a specific account, through a specific company/money wiring service or used to buy gift cards and the remainder is to be retained as compensation for the services rendered. The check/money order is not real and will bounce. The victim will then be responsible for covering the amount of the fraudulent check. The scammer, of course, pockets the portion of money that was wired back or has already used the gift card codes and disappears. IntelliShop NEVER sends checks/money orders, we ONLY pay our shoppers through PayPal.
If you think that you have been contacted by a scammer or you do receive a check/money order in the mail, please report it to your local authorities. We also suggest that you contact your nearest Postal Inspection Service Office by calling 1-877-876-2455, then press option “4” or say “Fraud.” You can also make a report online by visiting postalinspectors.uspis.gov. We recommend blocking the scammers from your email and phone so they can no longer contact you. If you ever have questions about the legitimacy of a shop offer, please call our office directly at 419-872-5103.
Like A Mystery Shopper
by Matt Liasse, Field Staff Coordinator
Mystery shopping is a way to provide companies with vital information on customer experience. It’s also a way for someone to get paid while running an everyday errand. Below are five tips to remember while trekking on a mystery shopping endeavor.
Like you’re in school, think ahead.
When I was in school, there were plenty nights I crammed the night before an exam. Sometimes I would try to rush a paper done the morning it was due. When leaving tasks for the last minute, important details can be missed. The same goes for mystery shopping.
Plan for each shop that you do. Read over the guidelines in advance and make sure you know exactly what is expected. If there are any questions, create a dialog with your scheduler with enough time for possible back and forth. Go into a shop knowledgeable of expectations.
Like you’re on a mission, pay attention to detail.
There is no need to pretend to be a secret agent; just act natural. If you are going into a restaurant, don’t be stressed over all the things you need to remember. Just act like it’s a normal outing but be observant. Make sure you note what details (names, times) to report on.
Like a friend, remember names.
Most shops will require a photo of the location or a business card. Always keep this in mind when completing a shop. Unfortunately, this minor detail can make or break your shop.
Always get the name of the employees you speak to, even if they do not have a nametag on. Ask for their name if you must; that does not give you away as a mystery shopper. You can say something like, “Oh, you’ve been really helpful. What was your name again?” The clients use your reports to reward or coach the employees that you mention, so it’s important that they know exactly who it is you are referring to.
Like a millennial, keep your phone in your hand.
These days, everyone has their phone in their hand. In all public spaces, you can easily spot someone texting, reading, scrolling, posting, tweeting, pinning, linking, snapping – it’s endless.
I wouldn’t recommend being on social media during a mystery shop, but you would benefit from keeping your phone out. You can text yourself notes or utilize a notepad app – this will help you not to forget important details. Because having a phone out is so common in 2019, it doesn’t give you away as a shopper if you do too.
Like a reporter, just record the facts.
No matter your experience, it’s easy to embellish when writing narratives. In order to be objective, act like a journalist covering a major event. Write everything that happened from start to finish. The reader should be able to clearly visualize your experience. Instead of writing, “the employee was not nice and I felt like I was bothering them,” say something like, “When I arrived at the location, it took 45 seconds for an employee to greet me.” The client is aware what is acceptable and what is not. You just have to state the facts.
The most important thing is that shoppers have fun. With IntelliShop, you can find yourself evaluating restaurants, sporting events, concerts, etc. … the possibilities are endless.
Glassdoor Job Posting Fraud
Please be aware of this job posting on Glassdoor seeking mystery shoppers for IntelliShop as it is NOT a posting that WE put on the site. We wanted all of our interested shoppers to be aware of this fraudulent posting that does not even link to our appropriate shopper sign up panel. Please know that if you apply to be a shopper from this posting, it is not through IntelliShop and is a SCAM.
If you have any further questions, please call our office directly.