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 Partners®

The contents of any report published herein are for informational and educational purposes only. The articles are not to be construed as investment, tax, financial, accounting, or legal advice. Individuals should seek independent advice from a tax professional based on his or her individual circumstances.

The analysis contained in any publication published or otherwise disseminated by Buckingham Strategic Partners (BSP) on this site is based on the data available at the time of publication which may become outdated or otherwise superseded at any time without notice, and the opinions of BSP. Certain information contained therein is based upon third-party sources, which BSP believes to be reliable, but is not guaranteed for accuracy or completeness. Neither the SEC nor any other federal or state agency or non-U.S. commission has confirmed the accuracy or determined the adequacy of information published or disseminated by BSP. Any publication or dissemination of information to the contrary is unlawful. Each reader acknowledges the contents published or otherwise disseminated by BSP is the sole property of BSP and any reproduction or distribution of such information, in whole or in part, other than for its intended purpose with credit provided to BSP, is prohibited. BSP reserves the right to remove, alter, edit, or adapt any third-party content published, contributed, or subject to applicable law.

By clicking on any of the links within the articles on this site you acknowledge that they are solely for your convenience, and do not necessarily imply any affiliations, sponsorships, endorsements or representations whatsoever by us regarding third-party Web sites. We are not responsible for the content, availability or privacy policies of these sites, and shall not be responsible or liable for any information, opinions, advice, products or services available on or through them.