We at Elite Survey Sites always advise you to stay away from companies that ask you to pay to join their membership programs in order to take surveys or become a mystery shopper. If they ask you to pay to play, they are probably not legitimate. Generally, the legitimate paid survey and mystery shopping sites are free for users.
However, even the free sites can lead to trouble. There are some scammers out there who offer a free signup, but they use it to entice people to give them their personal details. They will post mystery shopping ads that are paying more than anyone else in order to draw you in. Once they do that, they will ask you for personal details that you should never give to any company but you may think it is normal and typical and fall for it. They ask these questions in order to steal your identity or other personal information and take advantage of you.
You should watch out for these scams by following a few simple steps anytime you are signing up for a new paid survey or mystery shopping site.
There are a few signs that you can look for initially in order to recognize these scams and stop them dead in their tracks before they have your personal information.
More about the check scam
The check mailed to you in exchange for services is a very popular scam that a lot of people fall for every single day. This scam typically goes something like this:
How does this scam work?
The check that is sent to you is probably fake or comes from a random person’s account whose identity has been stolen. It may take a week or two for this check to clear, which it won’t. The bank will discover that the check is fraudulent. However, the scammers will not give you enough time to find this out. They will rush you to send them their “portion” of the payment, and by then it will be too late. You may think the check is good because the bank took it, and the funds appear to be “available on X (date)” but the check will bounce. The check will not clear and you will have already sent the wire transfer to the scammer. You will be losing hundreds if not thousands of dollars in this scam.
If a mystery shopping site did not scare you off or show any of the obvious signs of being a scam, and you are considering signing up, the next step is to do some quick research and verify their integrity.
The quickest and easiest thing to do is google the term “____________ reviews” while filling in the blank with the name of the mystery shopping company. If the site is a scam, you will likely know this within moments of performing a google search of this kind. It will often take you right to Consumer Affairs, Snopes or the Better Business Bureau and will confirm whether the mystery shopping site is a scam or not.
Here are a few more ways to identify and verify these mystery shopping offers:
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