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Mystery Shopping & Craig’s List: Another Scam to be Careful of September 23, 2009

Posted by Ann Michaels & Associates in Uncategorized.
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Schedulers have utilized many message boards, forums, and similar sites to post for jobs – Craig’s list used to be one of those places. However, with more and more scams popping up, schedulers are shying away from using this site for job listings.

You may have heard of the Craig’s List scam in which fictitious people were posting for mystery shops that would pay up to $200 an evaluation. This is the newest scam we’ve become aware of thanks to an email from the MSPA (Mystery Shopping Providers Association):

At least one shopper has a new twist on how to scam a mystery shopping company. Here’s what she did:

  • Posted on CraigsList for a shop she was scheduled to conduct for a mystery shopping company
  • Obtained a shopper to complete the evaluation; the unsuspecting shopper then emailed the scammer the information on a copy of the MSC’s  form (provided by the scammer) and receipts for proof of purchase
  • Scammer then entered in the information and receipts into the MSC’s database system as her own shop and was paid
  • Individual who conducted the shop for scammer then contacted the Mystery Shopping Company for payment
  • Scammer has also obtained personal information using portions of Member’s website application, as well as their ICA.
  • Scammer informs the interested individuals who responded to her CraigsList posting she has now filled her open shop and in one case directed the individual to then sign up with the Company.
  • Scammer then sent an email to one of the Company’s schedulers saying she has referred these individuals and collected referral bonuses.

It’s crazy out there, which is why as an industry we have to be viligant and extra cautious. As a shopper, just remember one simple rule – if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck…..

Whenever you come across what appears to be a new company, scheduler, or editor, do your research beforehand. This can save you a lot of trouble down the road.

Until next time….happy shopping!

Are You Thinking About Becoming a Mystery Shopper? September 16, 2009

Posted by Ann Michaels & Associates in Uncategorized.
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We’ve seen an increase in the number of inquiries we receive from people who are thinking about becoming a mystery shopper. If you’re one of those people, WELCOME! Mystery shopping is an interesting and valuable industry, and it helps companies monitor and measure their customers’ experiences.

If you are considering becoming a shopper, here are some things you have to consider:

1. Time: this is work you can perform around your schedule. The flexibility is great! Think about how much time you can devote each week to mystery shopping – keep in mind that the time you spend will not only be completing the shop, but includes time spent reviewing the instructions and training, completing the shop, and the completing the report.

2. Is this to supplement your income, or to replace it? Many people will ask if mystery shopping can become a part-time job. The answer varies and depends on many factors, including where you live, how many companies you are registered with, and so forth. Most will do this to supplement income, and when you’re starting out, that’s about all you can expect in the short term. It takes time to build a base of companies to work with and to build your reputation, both of which can provide you with more opportunities.

3. Payment: are you cash strapped and in need of an income now? If so, don’t expect mystery shopping to fill that immediate need. Most companies pay 30-60 days after completing a shop, though there are some that pay sooner.  You will need to check each company’s website for payment details.

If you can watch for shops that don’t require a purchase, you can build income without many out of pocket expenses. It may take some time to find these, but they are out there. When you’re starting out, it’s wise to take shops that do not require a purchase to get your feet wet. Once you’re starting to get paid for shops, you can move on to shops that do require a purchase. This helps your cash flow and keeps out of pocket spending to a minimum.

4. Writing and observational skills: these are both critical to a successful mystery shopper. Do you like to write narratives? Can you write clearly and objectively? A good idea is to practice a shop on your own – pick a store you will visit anyway and pay attention to the details. When you get home, write a narrative about your experience. Did you get the employee’s name and physical description? Did you experience a wait for assistance? Can you detail the conversation you had with an associate? It’s not always as easy as it looks – take a test drive and see if it’s something you’ll like doing. After all, having a job that you enjoy makes it all the better!

These are just some things to consider if you are thinking of becoming a mystery shopper. If you have questions about getting started, please comment and we can help you! We always welcome new shoppers, and look forward to helping you get started!

Until next time…happy shopping!

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