Updated! FTC Issues Warning About Mystery Shopping Scams

Updated! FTC Issues Warning About Mystery Shopping Scams

We have been notified that current fake letters to consumers list these phone numbers: 888-228-3460, 888-239-1660 or 877-594-6794.  Please read the following blog post for information on how to report a scam if you receive a fake letter or fake check.   Do not deposit these checks!

The Federal Trade Commission has issued a new warning about mystery shopping scams.  This particular warning is intended to caution recent college graduates about potential scammers targeting young people looking for work.  Check out the FTC new release .

Scammers are not only targeting recent college graduates.  As we have noted before in previous consumer alerts, all sorts of consumers are targeted.  Here are some tips for avoiding these scams:

* Legitimate mystery shopping companies do not require potential mystery shoppers to pay a fee to become a mystery shopper.   To find legitimate mystery shopping companies, visit the Mystery Shopping Providers Association (MSPA) website .  
* Never deposit a check from someone you do not know.  Scammers often send fake checks to consumers as part of a fake mystery shop.  The consumer is instructed to deposit the check into their bank account and wire a small amount of money to third party.  The check will bounce and the consumer will be responsible for paying the bank back for the money withdrawn.   For more on fake check scams, check our alerts here .   
* Often times these scammers are based out of foreign countries.  Be sure to do your research before signing up for a mystery shopping company.

Confero has compiled a long list of resources to help consumers identify and avoid scams.  Please take a few minutes to read the articles and watch the videos below.

* The FTC released these videos about mystery shopping scams.
* Confero’s president, Elaine Buxton sat down with the Better Business Bureau for an interview about fake check scams .  
* We have compiled a list of scammers who have claimed to work for Confero; none have ever worked for Confero.  
* Check out this short segment on NBC's Today Show about fake check scams.  
* Have you been a victim of a fake check scam? This blog post explains what you should do if you receive a fake check in the mail or are contacted by a scammer.
* Scammers have used fake names to pretend that they work for Confero.  They claim to hold positions as “Human Resource Manager”, “Evaluator Coordinator” or “Head of Recruitment.”  These positions do not exist at Confero.  

A vigilant consumer sent us a copy of the fake check and  fake letter they recently received in the mail.  If you read closely there are a few typos and poorly worded sentences that should be a red flag.  Also, notice there is no return address on the envelope.  We have heard from some consumers that the envelopes are postmarked in Canada, but the letter lists Confero’s Cary, NC address.  

One of Confero’s staff members called the phone number listed in the fake letter and recorded the call.  These people sound legitimate!  Take a few minutes to listen to the recorded phone call .  One of the biggest red flags is that the “evaluator coordinator” says the shopper can visit any Western Union location and any Wal-Mart location.  Legitimate mystery shopping firms require mystery shoppers to visit a specific location at a specific time.  

If you are interested in legitimate mystery shopping opportunities, here are a few tips:

* Do your research! Check out the Mystery Shopping Providers Association (MSPA) website for a list of legitimate and reputable firms.
* Check out a company’s rating with the Better Business Bureau .
* Never pay to become a mystery shopper.  Any companies requiring an application fee or new shopper fee are a scam.  
* Mystery shopping companies DO NOT issue checks for hundreds or thousands of dollars.  If you receive a check in the mail, it is fake.
* Mystery shopping companies DO NOT mystery shop Western Union or other money transfer services.  

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