Before purchasing that mystery shopper kit, think twice about your spending

"Get Paid to Do What You Love!"  "Make Money Shopping!"  "Get Paid Eating out!  You will find these types of ads popping up all over the internet.  They are filled with unbelievable claims and true testimonials - or so they say.  These services will tell you about an amazing story of a lucky stay at home mom who makes $10,000 a month from doing what women love to do - shopping.  How about that fortunate guy who was able to actually retire from his factory job after a few short months of being a mystery shopper.  Sound good?  Of course it does.  After scrolling through the web page you reach the bottom and notice further details - "For a one-time fee of only $29.95, you too can receive the mystery shopper kit and be well on your way to financial freedom!" 

An offer this tempting is hard to refuse.  For a mere $29.95, there's no way this could be a scam, right?  Let's see:

The reality of mystery shopping scams

After responding to the advertisement, more than likely you will receive an outdated package that gives access to a terribly designed website that is rather difficult to navigate through.  From there you may be directed to other sites offering even more lucrative mystery shopper jobs.  Frustrated with the service, you look for a way to opt out and find that there is no customer service team or refund policy.  If you are able to find contact information, there is a great chance that no one will even reply to your emails or phone calls.  By now, you come to realize that you've been victimized by the infamous mystery shopper scam.

Mystery shopper red flags

Just like any work-at-home or home-based business opportunity, you should remain cautious of any service asking that you pay money up front to become a mystery shopper.  Very few legitimate services will require you to pay such a fee or purchase a kit to get started.  Mystery shopper scams prey on an individual's greed and desire to get rich by doing as little physical work as possible, common elements of human nature.  They also frequently exploit stay at home spouses who have a need to make contributions to family income.

Mystery shopper scams can be detected by observing numerous red flags.  One is the obvious guarantee that an individual will make a substantial amount of income in "X" amount of time.  No legitimate company will ever make such a claim.  In fact, it is very unlikely that mystery shopping will ever provide tremendous wealth for anyone.  This is essentially a low paying job that should be viewed more as a hobby, or part-time gig rather than a career move.  While there are a few perks and benefits, mystery shopping should never be used as a vehicle to the promise land. 

By doing a bit of research, you can actually find legitimate paying jobs as a mystery shopper.  As stated above, this is not something likely to retire you from work, but it does have the potential to bring in extra income for something you find enjoyable.  If the shoe fits, what could be better than that?

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Identity theft comes in many forms.

A person\92s identity can be 'borrowed' for the purpose of creating fictional credit cards or a person\92s entire identity can be usurped to the point where they can have difficulty proving that they really are who they claim to be.

Up to 18% of identity theft victims take as long as four years to realize that their identity has been stolen.

There are many ways to protect your personal identity and many steps you can take to prevent your identity from being stolen:

*Never give out unnecessary personal information
*Never provide bank details or social security numbers over the Internet
*Always remain aware of who is standing behind you when you type in your personal credit codes at ATM machines and at supermarket checkout swipe machines.