This comprehensive guide will provide an in-depth look at Walmart secret shopper scams – how to recognize, avoid, and report them. You‘ll learn why Walmart does not currently have a legitimate mystery shopping program, spot common scam tactics, and find safer ways to take advantage of real secret shopper opportunities.
What Exactly is a Secret Shopper?
Secret shoppers, sometimes called mystery shoppers, are independent contractors hired by companies to anonymously evaluate the customer experience at their businesses.
The secret shopper acts like a typical customer by purchasing products, utilizing services, and dealing with employees. Afterwards, they provide detailed reports and feedback about their experience.
Retailers, restaurants, banks, and other service businesses use secret shopper programs to monitor operations and employee performance at their locations. Feedback helps identify areas for improvement in things like store cleanliness, inventory, product quality, staff courtesy, and more.
According to a Forbes article, approximately 87% of retailers utilize secret shoppers to gain unbiased insight into the customer perspective.
When done ethically, secret shopping provides shoppers an opportunity to earn extra income and gives companies valuable consumer data. However, scams are rampant, requiring due diligence.
Does Walmart Have a Legitimate Secret Shopper Program?
Walmart has directly confirmed that is does not currently operate any type of secret shopper or mystery shopper program.
This is clearly stated on their website:
"Walmart does not have a “secret shopper” program and we do not send emails asking for your personal information like your social security number or bank account number.”
Walmart does not hire or pay people to anonymously evaluate their stores. They also adamantly warn customers to beware of secret shopper scams falsely claiming to represent Walmart.
Unfortunately, scammers exploit the Walmart brand name recognition and retail reputation to try and deceive consumers. Read on to learn about their tactics.
How Does the Walmart Secret Shopper Scam Work?
While specific techniques vary, here are some of the most common methods scammers use while impersonating a fake Walmart secret shopping program:
|Unsolicited Job Offers||Emails or texts claiming Walmart selected you to become a secret shopper. Often pretend to be from fictional Walmart departments.|
|Forged Checks||Fake checks for several hundred to several thousand dollars mailed to victims. Scammers claim it‘s for training and purchases.|
|Money Transfer Requests||Pressuring victims to wire money domestically via Western Union or MoneyGram, or overseas, to "test" the money transfer service.|
|Personal Info Requests||Seeking sensitive ID info like SSNs, bank account/routing details, licenses, etc.|
|Fake Websites||Walmart-mimicking sites with subtle domain differences, non-Walmart branding, etc.|
|Gift Card Offers||Offering a "free" Walmart gift card if victims first pay a fee.|
Overall, these scams aim to steal money and personal information:
Forged checks are deposited, temporarily clearing before eventually bouncing. Victims must repay banks.
Money transfer requests scam victims into wiring their own money under the guise of a fake purchase.
Personal info like SSNs and bank accounts can enable identity theft and account drainage.
According to 2021 Federal Trade Commission data, fake check scams alone impacted over 30,000 victims and resulted in losses nearing $1 billion.
Warning Signs – How to Spot a Walmart Secret Shopper Scam
Here are key indicators that a Walmart mystery shopping offer is fraudulent:
Arrives unsolicited via email, text, mail, or online ad
Claims you were “selected” or “hired” despite no application
Email has multiple undisclosed recipients
Asks for personal or banking info upfront
Website domain isn’t an official Walmart URL
Uses outdated or inconsistent Walmart logos
Poor grammar, typos, and other errors
Pressures urgent action or says offer is limited-time
Requests wire transfers to third parties
Sends physical checks and requests you deposit them
|Red Flags||Why It‘s Suspicious|
|Unsolicited Offers||Walmart does not recruit secret shoppers via unprompted emails/texts.|
|Requests For Personal Info||Real companies won‘t ask for banking details, SSNs, etc. without hiring you.|
|Poor Spelling/Grammar||Indicates scammer likely overseas just trying to net victims.|
|High-Pressure Tactics||Scare tactic trying to get you to act rashly before realizing it‘s a scam.|
|Outdated Logos||Scammers reuse old branding now changed by real Walmart.|
|Fake Checks||Real mystery shopping companies rarely if ever send checks upfront.|
Bottom line – anything arriving out of the blue that asks for sensitive details or money is extremely suspicious.
How to Protect Yourself from Walmart Secret Shopper Scams
Here are some tips to avoid falling victim:
Never deposit checks from strangers or companies you did not apply to work for. Scam checks can initially clear before bouncing.
Do not wire money at the request of random “employers.” Domestic and overseas wire transfers are nearly impossible to reverse.
Avoid giving personal info like SSNs, licenses, or financial accounts to unverified outlets. This enables identity theft.
Research mystery shopping companies thoroughly before providing your details or doing work. Look for complaints, reviews, confirm MSPA membership.
Report any scams to companies like Walmart, MoneyGram, the FTC, and your bank ASAP. This can help recover losses.
Monitor bank statements routinely for fraudulent checks, transfers, or account access. Act immediately if anything looks unauthorized.
As the popular saying goes, "If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is." Be wary of unprompted opportunities.
How to Report a Walmart Secret Shopper Scam
If you receive a suspicious Walmart mystery shopping offer, take prompt action:
Forward scam emails as attachments to Walmart at [email protected]
Report fake check scams to the Federal Trade Commission. Can improve law enforcement response.
File complaints with money transmitters like MoneyGram if funds were stolen via wire transfer.
Notify your bank if you shared information or deposited fake checks. They can place holds or close compromised accounts.
Consider a police report if you suffered significant financial losses. This creates a paper trail.
Place initial fraud alerts with Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion if personal info was compromised. Renew alerts every 90 days while monitoring activity.
Change online account passwords if any were revealed to scammers. Enable two-factor authentication where possible.
Are There Real Secret Shopper Companies?
Although Walmart does not currently use mystery shoppers, legitimate secret shopping opportunities do exist:
According to the Mystery Shopping Providers Association, there are over 500,000 paid mystery shopping opportunities annually across 300,000+ locations.
However, real companies will not send unsolicited offers or advertise via email/texts. This is always a red flag.
Rather, seek opportunities through:
Thoroughly vet companies, read reviews, and confirm MSPA membership before providing personal details or completing work.
Walmart does not currently have a secret shopper program. Any offer to become a Walmart mystery shopper via email or text is a scam.
Scammers aim to steal money through fake checks, wire transfers, and to enable identity theft.
Never provide personal information or banking details without properly vetting employers.
Secret shopping with real companies can be a legitimate side job. But only work with verified providers located through jobs boards, company sites, or MSPA.
Be vigilant of scams, know the warning signs like unsolicited offers, and report anything suspicious for protection.
Avoiding Walmart secret shopper scams comes down to using common sense. If an opportunity seems questionable, oddly urgent, or too good to be true, it probably is. Do your due diligence, protect your information, and rely on legitimate mystery shopping resources to stay safe.