– Issues “Consumer Alert” for Mystery Shopping Scams –
NEW YORK–April 10, 2007– GfK Mystery Shopping, a division of GfK Custom Research North America, today released a statement that an unauthorized third party recently made illegal use of its name and logo to perpetrate a mystery shopping fraud that involved false advertisements and bogus cashier’s checks.
GfK advises consumers to disregard future letters or classified ads that promise fast cash and free gifts by performing mystery shopping and service evaluations.
The most recent scam asks consumers to cash a check and wire the money back to a specified address, typically outside the country. The “reward” to consumers – they keep a percentage of the original cashier’s check as payment. In these scams, the cashier’s check bounces several days later, and the consumers are out of pocket for the entire amount of the money they wired to the international address – typically between $2,500 and $3,500.
Don Simons, Managing Director of GfK Mystery Shopping explains, “Recently our name and logo was used in conjunction with a new round on an old shopper scam. We are actively working with the Mystery Shopping Providers Association and appropriate local, state and federal authorities to put an end to this scheme.”
John Swinburn, Executive Director of the MSPA, the largest professional trade association dedicated to improving service quality through the use of mystery shoppers adds, “Mystery shopping is a valuable customer service tool that has gained widespread acceptance in the retail, financial services and restaurant industries, and is a highly valuable tool to gain customer experience metrics and feedback.”
GfK and the MSPA offer the following tips to consumers who may be considering a mystery shopping opportunity or have recently been the target of a shop scam:
- Prospective shoppers should never need to pay a fee to become a mystery shopper.
Legitimate companies never ask shoppers to send a check or cash advance.
If a company promises to pay you through check cashing or money transfer, it may be a scam.
- If a shopper receives an email or visits a Web site that requests a fee, simply disregard it
- Be patient. It takes time, sometimes months or even longer, to be contacted with an offer to conduct a shopping assignment. Respond directly to the company that posts or advertises assignments.
- Once assigned a shop, ensure it is completed according to the guidelines set forth by the mystery shopping client.
To learn more about these scams, including how to protect yourself and the steps to take if you've been victimized, please visit www.gfkamerica.com/mysteryshopping or www.mysteryshop.org.
About GfK Mystery Shopping
A division of GfK Custom Research, North America, GfK Mystery Shopping offers more than 15 years of North American mystery shopping experience and specializes in helping clients increase revenues, grow brand equity, build positive customer experiences and drive operational improvement.
About GfK Custom Research North America
Headquartered in New York, GfK Custom Research North America is part of the GfK Group. With home offices in Nuremberg, Germany, the GfK Group is among the top-four market research organizations in the world. Its activities cover five business divisions: Custom Research, Retail and Technology, Consumer Tracking, Media and Healthcare. In addition to 13 subsidiaries in Germany, the GfK Group has more than 130 subsidiaries and affiliates in over 70 countries.
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