Don't get duped by mystery shopping job offer scams

(Peter Summers/Getty Images)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Let’s face it, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. That’s why the Federal Trade Commission is warning people about mystery shopper scams going around.

In a perfect world, we would all get paid to check out trendy stores and restaurants incognito. Unfortunately, there are just as many bogus job postings out there as legitimate ones. 

So how can you tell the difference?

The FTC warns that you should avoid any jobs that require you to pay for training. Another red flag is if you’re asked to deposit a check and send money back, or purchase a gift card for the company.

It also can’t hurt to check the employer’s track record. Try searching the employer’s name along with terms including “complaint” or “scam.” Where there’s smoke, there’s usually fire.

These scams are common. In fact, a Ponte Vedra Beach woman was recently invited to become a “secret shopper.” She got cold feet when asked to deposit a check and buy $2,835 in gift cards.

The bottom line is, trust your gut. You can also find a database of legitimate businesses hiring “mystery” or “secret” shoppers through the Mystery Shopping Providers Association.

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