December 17, 2020

The 12 Days of Holiday Fraud – Day 3: Secret Santa Shopper

The winter holidays are upon us and scams that leverage the holiday season to target you are in full effect right now.

We’re taking that questionable holiday classic The 12 Days of Christmas and dropping the needle on our version warning about the top 12 scams we see leading up to the holidays.

Today, we present Day 3 of Holiday Fraud - “On the third day of the holidays, my scammer targeted me with  . . .”


During the holiday season companies will hire secret holiday shoppers to evaluate their service and customer experience. The secret shopper is asked to go to the store and purchase items and interact with different employees. After the shopping experience they complete an evaluation about the experience for the store. The customer is reimbursed for the products(s) they bought and gets to keep their purchases.

Scammers leverage this legitimate practice as an opportunity to recruit their own secret shoppers - who end up losing money.

In this scam, you’ll receive an opportunity to be a secret shopper via an email, phone call or in the mail. To participate, you will be asked to provide information – it may include asking for your credit or debit card so you can reimbursed. You will also pay an application fee.

As a result, the application fee goes to the scammer, your identity may have been stolen in the process and you never get to go on that secret shopping trip!

Holiday Tips:

  • Never reply to a secret shopper offer you did not initiate or apply for.
  • Never pay any sort of fee – no matter how small – to be a secret shopper. Legitimate companies pay you to do this for them – they don’t charge you to do it for them. 

Stay tuned for 12 Days of Holiday Fraud – Day 4.

Check out Day 1: Secret Sister Gift Exchange.

Check out Day 2: Requests for Charitable Gifts.

© 2020 Buckingham Strategic Wealth®

Stay Connected With Buckingham

Want more resources like this? Click here to receive financial insights, articles, videos and webinar invitations.

Sign Up For Email