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Secret shopping schemes entice shoppers with bogus checks

Posted by: Alejandra Matos under Buyer beware, Scams Updated: October 23, 2013 - 10:39 AM

Consumers who like to shop may be enticed to enter a secret shopping program, but the Better Business Bureau says mailings attempting to introduce people to mystery shopping are usually bogus.

Typically marketing companies businesses hire secret shoppers to evaluate the customer service or to gather information on a specific product. For example, a clothing store may want to ensure their employees are asking customers to sign up for a store credit card, so the company may hire secret shoppers who will go the store and then answer a survey. 

The BBB of Minnesota and North Dakota said some secret shopping schemes look official because the scammers mail real-looking checks from legitimate businesses, sometimes sent via UPS or FedEx. 

"The checks are bogus and these businesses have no association with these schemes," the BBB said in a news release Tuesday.

Firms do not typically send out checks to lure in potential secret shoppers,according to the BBB. "At best, being a secret shopper offers supplemental income."

The BBB advises visiting the Mystery Shopping Providers Association website, mysteryshop.org, for a list of reputable mystery shopping companies. 

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