The following question comes from Ammon at Northern Arizona University:
I recently noticed a job opening for a mystery shopper on my school’s job search site. I read through the ad and it seemed somewhat legitimate. I then emailed them and received an email response that made me a little suspicious. A quick Google search turned up that other people have reported receiving similar emails but they had been approached via a mass email, not through a campus job board.
I am assuming this posting is a fraud but I do not know how to tell for sure.
Hi Ammon –
It is always good to be a cautious consumer when it comes to job postings, because there is a lot of fraud.
Since you found the job posting on your school’s job search site, my first recommendation is to go to your school’s career services office (or which ever office runs the job search site) and ask them about it. If it is legit – they will be able to tell you. If it is a fraudulent posting, they will want to get it out of their system as quickly as possible, and they will appreciate that you brought it to their attention. Career services offices try very hard to check out postings before activating them in their job search sites, but invariably, some bad apples slip through from time to time. That is why you as a job seeker need to do your due diligence as well.
Also, review the email you received very carefully. Does it include any URLs? Do they look legit? What is the email address of the sender? It is an email address from the company email address or is it from a Gmail or Yahoo email address? Is it from a person or from a generic email account. All of these can give you a clue as to the legitimacy of the posting.
Research the company online, In this case Mystery Shoppers, Inc. is an actual company, and they have a Consumer Warnings page on their website to help potential mystery shoppers avoid fraud. They also offer some good advice in their Frequently Asked Questions section. Heck, there is even a professional association for mystery shoppers! and they link directly to that site as well.
Do all of this and then trust your instincts!
On a side note – being a mystery shopper might be a great way to make a little side income while you are in school and beyond, but I wouldn’t look it as a career path. Be sure to do your internships and explore your career options with the help of your college career services adviser.
Hope this helps