If you’ve heard of check cashing and payday loan businesses, then you already know what kind of assignments fall under the heading of alternative financial services. These places offer services that traditional banks and credit unions don’t. There’s a lot of myths and misconceptions about these types of assignments, so read on to learn more.
Project Variations: There are usually two main scenarios for these establishments. One specifies applying for a payday loan only. The other is a select-your-own scenario, allowing you to choose from a variety of services including payday loans, check cashing, purchasing money orders and gift cards, and more.
Visit & Reporting Requirements: Visits at alternative financial services businesses are usually fairly quick, from 5 minutes for easy transactions like check cashing to 15 minutes for a more involved process such as a payday loan. Reports have little to no narrative.
Strategies: Be prepared with all needed documents prior to the visit. For payday loan scenarios this should at a minimum include: identification, bank statement or proof of income, and a blank check. Sometimes proof of residence is also required, which can be shown with a piece of mail you received at your address. Some of these businesses will also require references. The businesses will not actually contact those you list, but their phone numbers will be verified prior to loan approval.
One myth about conducting a payday loan scenario is that a credit check is run on you. It’s not.
If you will be conducting a check cashing scenario be sure it’s one that can be easily processed without any hassles, and don’t use a check from a mystery shopping company.
Note your time in and out, as well as any waiting times. Get names and descriptions of employees involved in your transaction. Observe how many tellers are on duty and how many customers are in line. Be prepared to report on what information you were told about your transaction, including any expenses for services.
Another myth about visiting businesses offering alternative financial services is that the shopper must dress and play the part. That’s a somewhat arrogant presumption. People from all walks of life encounter financial difficulties, whether self-imposed or resulting from tough economic times. Sure, dress casually. A business suit would make you stand out on almost any mystery shop, with a few exceptions for more upscale assignments. So leave it at home. But don’t feel compelled to dress in a manner that isn’t your normal comfortable style. And don’t think up some convoluted excuse to share with the teller about why you are using their services. They don’t want to know, and really, most customers wouldn’t want to share that information.
Do not accept a payday loan assignment if you cannot repay the loan in full with all fees. The loan amount is your own responsibility. The MSC will reiumburse for the loan fees, but you probably will not receive those prior to the due date of the loan.
What Others Have to Say: Shoppers on www.mysteryshopforum.com love these assignments, finding them to be effortless and lucrative. Now that the word is out, visit the job boards often to get a chance at one of these.
Estimated Pay: Pay varies widely for these assignments. Typical fees offered by one MSC for the select-your-own scenario are around $19 to $25. Another MSC pays $45 and up to $150 for the payday loan scenario. All out-of-pocket expenses for services rendered are reimbursed.
MSCs: Among the mystery shopping companies that conduct these evaluations are Market Force, KSS, and MSI Services.