HONOLULU (KHON2) — Looking for a chance to shop at a store for free and get paid while doing it? Retailers often hire secret quality checkers to evaluate their products, but experts warn scammers are taking advantage of these freebie deals.
“So there are legitimate secret shoppers, where companies actually hire people to go to their stores, and to purchase items,” said Rosann Freitas, Better Business Bureau (BBB) Hawaii marketplace manager. “And it sounds awesome, sounds like an amazing job, however, it’s so easy for scammers to try and take advantage of that.”
The BBB said the key to secret shopper jobs is the retailer should be the one paying the shopper — so don’t click on every ad floating around the internet.
“A lot of times we’re seeing, is that people will get an email or they’ll see something on social media that is — they’re looking for secret shoppers and they’re like, ‘Oh, that sounds like me, I will go ahead and respond to it,'” Freitas said.
The BBB warned to never buy into a “pay-to-play” secret shopper service. Real companies do not charge people to work for them.
Be wary of charges that “guarantee” a secret shopper service, and never respond to direct requests for wire transfer services: they are a foolproof way to get scammed.
“Usually they will ask the person to go, a lot of times, ‘We want you to go the store and buy this item, so we’re going to send you a check, deposit it in your account and immediately go buy the stuff and then wire transfer us the money,'” Freitas said. “And what happens is that old check-writing thing that happens, where you deposit the check. but it can take seven to ten days for it to actually process, and once it goes through that process, the check bounces.”
The BBB said consumers should check with a company official before applying for a secret shopper job when they get an email or come across an ad for a quality checking opportunity. It can mean the difference between getting free stuff and a paycheck or getting scammed.
Check out the Mystery Shopping Providers Association for a list of legitimate chances to be a secret shopper. They list legit retailers with quality checking jobs and even allow members to search for specific service providers.