Consumer alert: Beware of ‘secret shopper’ emails

Extra money around the holiday season sounds great, but be aware of emails offering you a job as a secret shopper. You could end up paying in the end, instead of getting paid.

Emails like these will ask for your personal information or tell you they will send you a cashier’s check.

Gregory Dunn of the Better Business Bureau Hawaii showed us one such email.

“To receive an email from a company that says ‘we got a job for you, we are going to give you money,’ they don’t know who I am. They are asking for me for all of my information that it would take for me to open a credit account. They are searching for your information, that’s a big red flag that they don’t know me. It’s a blind solicitation.”

In this case, the email is advertising $250 to do some mystery shopping, but it asks for personal information like name, address, gender and phone number.

Check to see where the email is coming from and see if the reply email matches. Dunn pointed out that, here, “the reply is to a different email address.”

In other cases, the email may ask for a voided check so you can get the reward via direct deposit. But scammers can use the information on the check to take your money.

The advice from Dunn and the BBB: Never wire any money or provide your bank info to any suspicious that’s online. And if you’re not sure if an offer is legit, check with the Better Business Bureau.

If you have a consumer concern, or are interested in becoming an Action Line volunteer, give us a call at 591-0222 weekdays between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., or send an email to

So far this year, our volunteers helped save and recover more than $395,000 for those who asked for our help.

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