Beware, we’ve heard about a scam that begins when you get an email offering “secret shopper” jobs with retailers like Wal-Mart, Kmart, Best Buy or Home Depot. If you click through to the website, it looks like you’re on a retailer’s site – but you’re not. You’re asked to provide some personal information to get started, and told you’ll soon get a cashier’s check for around $1,500. You’re instructed to deposit the check into your account to “activate” your employment, keep $300 of that money as “advance payment” to cover initial expenses, and wire back the rest.
The problem is, the “job” isn’t real and it’s not associated with any actual stores. You’re dealing with a scammer. That check is a fake. If you deposit it, you’re on the hook to pay the credit union back.
Following these tips can help you avoid a mystery shopping scam:
- Do your research. Most legitimate secret shopper jobs are posted online by reputable marketing research or merchandising companies. A quick internet search can help you verify the company’s reputation, legitimacy, or flag any complaints. Scammers like to use the names of well-known companies like Home Depot or Wal-Mart to gain your trust.
- Never wire money to someone you don’t know. Wiring money is the same as sending cash – once you send it, you can’t get it back.
- Never agree to deposit a check from someone you don’t know. If the check turns out to be fake, it will eventually bounce. And since you are responsible for any deposited checks to your account, you will owe the credit union the money you withdrew.
- Never give your personal or financial information out online. Guard your personal information, and treat it as if it were cash. Refrain from entering your Social Security, bank account, or credit card numbers online or by phone to someone who gets in touch with you.
Phishing Scams – Beware of the bait!
Phishing scams lure account holders into providing personal or financial information to scammers posing as a legitimate business. Most phishing scams are conducted through email, with messages containing links that ask for your personal data or download spyware to your computer or mobile device. Other phishing scams are conducted by phone call, text messages and social media. RRCCU will never solicit your personal information via phone or email.
If an email looks suspicious or is from an unknown source, do not provide any information, open any attachments or click on any links. Look up the website of whoever the message appears to be from and go to it directly. Always beware of anyone who contacts you asking for personal information, such as account numbers. Your credit union issuer already has them and shouldn’t be asking for them.
Watch out for emails, messages or phone calls that:
- Request your confidential information like your SSN, account numbers, login IDs, PINs and passwords.
- Threaten to close or suspend your account or state that it’s been compromised.