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Ever hear of the “Secret Shopper” scam?

There are actually some legitimate secret shopper opportunities out there, but you need to know that there are a lot of fake ones out there, too. You just have to be cautious and do a little investigative work before you go all-in.

The Federal Trade Commission has some recommendations for people who have been contacted about being a secret shopper.

They suggest you do an online search of the company name, along with key words such as: “reviews,” “complaints” or “scam.”

If the company asks you to pay upfront fees or costs, you’re dealing with a scammer. Never do this with a secret shopper offer — or any other offers. If someone asks you to pay for something like certifications, directories or job guarantees, you are most likely dealing with a scammer.

Never wire money, buy gift cards or deposit a check from someone in exchange for you sending the person or group a small deposit.

Let’s say they send you a check for $3,000 and tell you to deposit the money into your bank account. They will ask you to send them something like, let’s say, $500. The check you deposited will be determined fake a day or so later, and you will be out the money you sent them.

Plus, your bank might charge you some fees for the fake check deposit.

If you have a bad feeling about something, there’s a good chance you are dealing with a scam. While online searches can help, your best bet is to start with the Federal Trade Commission’s website at FTC.gov.