Skip to main content
  1. Life
  2. Careers & Workplace
  3. Jobs

Mystery shopping jobs, are they scams or legitimate?

See also

Legitimate mystery shopping opportunities are out there, but so are plenty of scams. If an opportunity is on the up and up, you won't have to pay an application fee or deposit a check and wire money on to someone else.

What is Mystery Shopping?

Some retailers hire companies to evaluate the quality of service in their stores; they often use mystery shoppers to get the information. They instruct a mystery shopper to make a particular purchase in a store or restaurant, and then report on the experience. Typically, the shopper is reimbursed and can keep the product or service. Sometimes the shopper receives a small payment, as well.

Many professionals in the field consider mystery shopping a part-time activity, at best. And, they add, opportunities generally are posted online by marketing research or merchandising companies.

Don’t Pay to Be a Mystery Shopper

Dishonest promoters use newspaper ads and emails to create the impression that mystery shopping jobs are a gateway to a high-paying job with reputable companies. They often create websites where you can “register” to become a mystery shopper, but first you have to pay a fee — for information about a certification program, a directory of mystery shopping companies, or a guarantee of a mystery shopping job.

It's unnecessary to pay anyone to get into the mystery shopper business. The certification offered is almost always worthless. A list of companies that hire mystery shoppers is available for free, and legitimate mystery shopper jobs are listed on the internet for free. If you try to get a refund from the promoters, you will be out of luck. Either the business won’t return your phone calls, or if it does, it’s to try another pitch.

Don’t Wire Money

You may have heard about people who are “hired” to be mystery shoppers, and told that their first assignment is to evaluate a money transfer service, like Western Union or MoneyGram. The shopper receives a check with instructions to deposit it in a personal bank account, withdraw the amount in cash, and wire it to a third party. The check is a fake.

By law, banks must make the funds from deposited checks available within days, but uncovering a fake check can take weeks. It may seem that the check has cleared and that the money has posted to the account, but when the check turns out to be a fake, the person who deposited the check and wired the money will be responsible for paying back the bank.

It’s never a good idea to deposit a check from someone you don’t know and then wire money back.

Tips for Finding Legitimate Mystery Shopping Jobs

Becoming a mystery shopper for a legitimate company doesn’t cost anything. Here’s how you can do it:

  • Research mystery shopping. Check libraries, bookstores, or online sites for tips on how to find legitimate companies hiring mystery shoppers, as well as how to do the job effectively.
  • Search the internet for reviews and comments about mystery shopping companies that are accepting applications online. Dig deeper. Shills may be paid to post positive reviews.
  • Remember that legitimate companies don’t charge people to work for them – they pay people to work for them.
  • Never wire money as part of a mystery shopping assignment.

You can visit the Mystery Shopping Providers Association (MSPA) website at mysteryshop.org to search a database of mystery shopper assignments and learn how to apply for them. The MSPA offers certification programs for a fee, but you don't need "certification" to look – or apply – for assignments in its database.

In the meantime, don't do business with mystery shopping promoters who:

  • Advertise for mystery shoppers in a newspaper’s ‘help wanted’ section or by email.
  • Require that you pay for “certification.”
  • Guarantee a job as a mystery shopper.
  • Charge a fee for access to mystery shopping opportunities.
  • Sell directories of companies that hire mystery shoppers.
  • Ask you to deposit a check and wire some or all of the money to someone.

If you think you’ve seen a mystery shopping scam, file a complaint with:

Article source: Federal Trade Commission

Follow me:

Recommended Links:

Resume Writing EBook
Straight Talk from a Recruiter: Resume Writing Strategies and Easy To Follow Techniques
(Kindle Edition)

Advertisement

Life

  • Dead babies found
    Seven dead babies were found in Utah resident Megan Huntsman's old home
    Video
    Shocking Discovery
  • Kendall Jenner
    Get the Coachella looks: Kendall Jenner’s nose ring, green hair and edgy nails
    Camera
    Coachella Look
  • Dog's Easter basket
    How to fill your dog’s Easter basket with the perfect toys
    Easter Basket
  • Rabbit owners
    Bringing home the bunny: Important information for rabbit owners
    Camera
    7 Photos
  • Haunted island
    The world’s most haunted island may soon be the most haunted luxury resort
    Haunted Resort
  • Sunken ferry
    Search continues for missing passengers after a ferry sinks off the South Korean coast
    Video
    Sunken Ferry

User login

Log in
Sign in with your email and password. Or reset your password.
Write for us
Interested in becoming an Examiner and sharing your experience and passion? We're always looking for quality writers. Find out more about Examiner.com and apply today!