We’ve been alerted that there is a fraudulent check/money wiring scam circulating in the United States that is targeting mystery shop program providers as well as unsuspecting individuals.
Reports have come to us of a “Mr. Peterson” who claims to be an employee of Bare International who contacts individuals via email and offers “mystery shop” projects at MoneyGram or Western Union locations. The victim is mailed a cashier’s check – usually for over $2500 – and is told to cash it and keep a small portion of the total as his/her “shop fee.” The victim is then instructed to proceed to a MoneyGram location and wire the remainder to a named individual while conducting an evaluation of the customer service s/he receives in doing so. The bank that cashed the cashier’s check will eventually determine the check was fraudulent after which they will hold the victim responsible for the entire amount of the check.
“Mr. Peterson” does not work for BARE and is probably a criminal operating from another country where the United States has little to no jurisdiction to prosecute, however the MSPA (Mystery Shop Providers Association) has been working with authorities on the problem for some time. Please warn friends and family members that legitimate mystery shopping companies do not contact individuals out of the blue to offer them work unless they have already registered their services and – except for very specific types of shops – we do not forward funds to evaluators ahead of time. Emails from any person at BARE will always use the @bareinternational.com email address. Be aware that scammers often impersonate legitimate companies in cycles so if you receive an email or mailing from someone who claims to be an employee of ANY mystery shopping company that you have not worked with before, you should confirm its legitimacy by contacting that company through the website or phone number they have listed with the MSPA at www.mysteryshop.org. Do not use any links or phone numbers in the suspicious email to contact the company.
Money-wiring scams are unfortunately very common and take many forms besides that of mystery shopping opportunities. You can learn a great deal more about them at www.fakechecks.org.
What is a mystery shopper?
A mystery shopper, or mystery evaluator, is an independent service professional who assists our clients with making important decisions to move their business. A typical project involves the evaluation of one of our client’s businesses through in-person visits, telephone calls, web-based inquiries, or other means. Typically, the evaluator provides his/her objective feedback about the greeting and attitude of store employees, the employees’ knowledge of products and services, and the location’s appearance and product selection. Each project is different because BARE International’s clients all have different needs and design unique programs to meet them. When given a specific project, the evaluator receives a briefing on that particular client’s goals and objectives, including any special requirements the client has communicated to us.
How can i become a mystery shop evaluator?
To become an evaluator, you must be 21 years of age or older in the United States, or 18 years of age or older outside of the United States. You must also have established yourself as independent service professional in order to be eligible to perform BARE International projects. To accomplish this, we first recommend that you obtain a tax id number from the IRS. You may either create a business or simply use your own name. The process is simple, fast, and free. By establishing yourself as an independent professional in this manner, you represent that you are working for yourself and therefore able to market your services to any other mystery shopping companies you desire.
Once you establish your independent business, you must register your services with BARE International in order to receive notices about upcoming opportunities. To register with BARE, complete the online registration and agree to BARE’s working relationship terms and conditions.
Does it cost anything to register?
No. There are no fees to register your services with BARE.
In fact, if you see offers from other organizations stating that there is a fee to sign up before you are able to get mystery shopping assignments, BEWARE. You and your services are valuable and you should be compensated for providing them, not the other way around. This is not an accepted or standard practice for legitimate companies like BARE.
How soon can i start conducting evaluations?
As soon as your registration is complete, you can log in to our online portal, APOLLO, to check the Project Board for any available projects. Be aware that projects usually have firm deadlines, so be sure to read all the details before offering to do projects that interest you.
Where will i be doing evaluations?
Our clients represent a wide range of industries and locations with needs across the USA and globally. It is likely you will find opportunities near you. As an independent professional, you control where and how often you evaluate.
How would i find out about opportunities?
You can search the Job Board in APOLLO by zip code, state, and country to find the most up-to-date listing of opportunities all over the world. You may also elect to receive Project Offer Emails in your Evaluator Profile to receive email alerts about available projects in your area.
If i offer to do a project, how long does it take to get a response?
We process offers for projects on a daily basis. You should receive a confirmation via email within 48 hours or so if your bid was accepted. Check your email often!
How many projects can i have at one time?
As an independent service professional, this is really up to you. We always communicate to you what our clients expect in terms of quality of reports and project timeliness. It is your responsibility to estimate workloads and assess the amount of work that is feasible for you to perform. Please remember that if your performance does not meet the client’s expectations for a particular project, we reserve the right to enlist another evaluator. This can affect your compensation, so only taking on projects with standards that you can reasonably perform is key.
If i commit to a project but have an unexpected emergency, what should i do?
Contact the Project Manager in charge of that project as soon as possible so that BARE can locate another evaluator to take your place.
Do you rate the performance of evaluators?
We rate your work on each project as it comes in on a scale from 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest, against the expectations of the client. This is our own system for determining which evaluators we can count on to deliver the best product for our clients. Evaluators who consistently produce high quality work are in the highest demand and will be chosen to participate in projects more frequently than evaluators whose work receives average or below average ratings.
How much will i be paid for my work?
BARE pays out a wide range of fees for projects performed by evaluators. Most evaluators receive between $5-$35 per project depending on the scope, difficulty, and time commitment involved. Our clients typically have a fee range in mind for their projects. Their proposed fees – which evaluators may accept or decline – are communicated to the evaluator community via the job board before an evaluator offers to complete a project. Earnings are therefore under the control of the individual evaluator.
How long does it take to be paid my fees?
U.S. AND CANADA: Fees for services performed and reimbursement for allowable expenses will be distributed by mailed paper check or electronic payment on approximately the 16th of the month following the month in which projects were properly completed and received according to project requirements. Please note that the maximum allowable electronic payment is $500.00. For amounts that exceed that, a mailed paper check will be issued. Evaluators who opt for mailed paper checks should allow sufficient time for the postal service to deliver from Virginia (3-14 business days is recommended depending on your location).
If you are expecting a mailed paper check and do not receive it after waiting sufficient time, please report the lost check to us as soon as possible at by sending an email to email@example.com within 90 days of the date you were expecting it. If you believe your check has been lost in the mail, it can be re-issued right away for a $30 stop-payment fee (usually deducted from the reissued check), or you may opt to wait for the check to become invalid (six months) and it will be reissued to you with no fee.
We regret we are unable to investigate payment issues that are more than 90 days old.
We would like to remind you that we have an electronic
payment option available that avoids all possibility of paper checks being lost in the mail. To enroll in electronic payments, please go to the “Additional Information” section in your evaluator profile and enter the information for the bank account you would like to use to receive your payments. Your account information is highly secure and is used for no other reason than to make payment. Please ensure that you have completed your Evaluator Profile and remember to keep it updated in the event that any of the information changes.
ALL OTHER COUNTRIES: Fees for services performed and reimbursement for allowable expenses will be distributed by bank transfer or other method (which at our option is deemed to be the most cost effective and efficient method) on approximately the 20th of the month following the month in which projects were properly completed and received according to project requirements. Please ensure that you have completed the Payment Details section of your Extended Shopper Profile and remember to keep it updated in the event that any of the information changes.
FOR ALL PAYMENT TRANSACTIONS – As a courtesy, a notification of payment is sent to the email address on record in the Evaluator Profile. This notification lists the specific projects(s) included in the payment and the amount of fees and/or reimbursements paid. This notification should be checked carefully and any discrepancies reported as soon as possible. If you have any questions about payment for the individual projects listed, please contact your Project Manager. If you have any questions about the payment transaction itself, please contact the appropriate individual mentioned in the email.
For all payments, the deadline is 90 days from the date of issue (or date of expected receipt) to report any discrepancies. We regret we are unable to investigate payment issues that are more than 90 days old.
What are the terms and conditions to be a bare evaluator?