Mystery Shopping Scam Targets Consumers

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Consumers must be on the alert. ICC/Decision Services, leading provider of customer experience management services, wants to warn consumers of a new mystery shopping scam targeting their pocketbooks.

Consumers must be on the alert. ICC/Decision Services, leading provider of customer experience management services, wants to warn consumers of a new scam targeting their pocketbooks.

The scam begins when consumers are mailed what appears to be a legitimate check from a real mystery shopping company. The forged check, typically in sums from $1,000 to $5,000, comes with instructions asking the recipient to act as a mystery shopper, evaluating a wire service by wiring a portion of the check back to the company.
The consumer is told to keep the remainder of the check as payment for their mystery shopping services.

Because it contains real contact information for a legitimate mystery shopping company, consumers may be misled into assuming the check is good. It may take several days for the forgery to be discovered, during which time the consumer has already wired some amount of their own money to the scammers. Consumers are then held responsible for the full amount of the check.

ICC/Decision Services encourages consumers receiving these offers to file a report by contacting the following:

-The National Consumers League/Alliance for Consumer Fraud Awareness: http://www.fakechecks.org.
-Internet Crime Complaint Center:
http://www.ic3.gov/ (if the offer is received by e-mail or includes a website)
-Office of the Inspector General, U.S. Postal Service:
http://www.uspsoig.gov/ (if the offer is received by mail)
-Local Police
-Federal Trade Commission: http://www.ftc.gov
-Federal Bureau of Investigation: http://www.fbi.gov

ICC/Decision Services encourages consumers interested in mystery shopping to follow these guidelines developed by the Mystery Shopping Providers Association (MSPA):

-Prospective shoppers do not have to pay a fee to become a mystery shopper. Shoppers should be extremely wary of any mystery shopping offer that requests a fee.
-Visit the MSPA Web site (http://www.mysteryshop.org/shoppers) for a list of reputable mystery shopping companies and opportunities. Contact the companies directly for more information on how to become a shopper.
-Be patient. It takes time, sometimes months or even longer, to be contacted with an offer to conduct a shopping assignment.
-Be cautious of opportunities that offer large sums of money for simple tasks like cashing a check or wiring money. A typical mystery shopping evaluation will earn about $8 to $20. If an assignment sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

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Ethel Klein
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