Financial Tips

Secret Shopper Scams Can Leave You Holding The Bag

Do you want to go shopping and make money while doing it?

It sounds like a great gig, but getting caught in a secret shopper scam can be costly. While such jobs really do exist, you’re not going to get one through an unsolicited email or from a form letter in the regular mail.

Secret shopper scams work like this:

  • You get an email or a letter stating that you’ve been chosen to be a secret shopper.
  • You might be asked to provide personal information for future payment purposes – such as a Social Security number or financial account numbers for direct deposit of payments.
  • You might get a paper check and be asked to deposit it so you can complete your shopping assignments.

But don’t be fooled.

This can all backfire, making you a fraud target because you gave out information that scammers could use to take out loans in your name or wipe your financial accounts.

Even the check sent to you for deposit can be costly. That’s because the money was never really there. While it might appear to be in your account, it can take time for financial institutions to truly verify those funds.

In the meantime, the fake business might have already asked you to spend money shopping for things like gift cards or on wire transfer tests. They’ll ask you to send them photos or the gift cards and the verification numbers, or they’ll tell you where to wire the money.

And because the money wasn’t real, all you’ll be doing is spending your funds. And in both cases you won’t be able to recover a penny because the scammers will have already disappeared with the wired funds or spent the money from the gift cards.

So don’t fall for what sounds like a perfect shopping deal – or you’ll be left holding the bag.

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