Whether you’re looking at making a career out of mystery shopping, taking it up as a hobby, or just looking to increase your income, there are a few things you should be mindful of before you begin.Do your research
Before working with a mystery shopping company, verify that they are a legitimate business. Check with the MSPA (Mystery Shopping Providers Association) to make sure that the company in question is genuine. Look up the company’s website and if you’re still unsure, try contacting someone from their site to verify. Often the companies that are looking for mystery shoppers are the same ones who offer mystery shopping services and software to businesses.
Opportunities appear very similar to real ones. The shop descriptions and requirements are almost identical to a real mystery shop, but the emails often don't make sense and are full of spelling and grammatical errors.
Don’t pay to be a mystery shopper
You should never have to pay to get a list of mystery shopping opportunities, nor should you have to pay to become certified as a mystery shopper. No legitimate mystery shopping company will ask you to pay to register with them. You shouldn’t have to send money to anyone in order to accept an assignment or begin a mystery shop.
Don’t accept “wire transfer” shops
As a mystery shopper, never cash a cheque or money order before you’ve completed an assignment. There is a very convincing scam going around that involves criminals posing as legitimate mystery shopping companies.
Emails and requests always appear legitimate. In most cases, they’ll give you a fake cashier’s cheque and ask you to do a wire transfer as part of the shop. Shoppers are supposed to deposit this cheque into their account in order to have the funds to make the proposed purchases. However, the cheque is always for more than the shopper is supposed to spend.
The reason the cheque is for more than the necessary amount is so the shopper can wire back the remainder. After doing this, they realize that the cheque bounces and was counterfeit, and they have just sent their own money. Once this happens, they’ve lost their money forever.
Learn more about mystery shopping scams and how to avoid them. There are some terrific mystery shopping boards and forums that provide helpful resources and tips for shoppers to prevent people from falling victim to these scams. Sign up and get involved in the mystery shopping community!
Mystery shopping can be a lot of fun and a great way to make some extra money, but it’s important to remember that if something doesn't feel right to you, then don’t go through with it. Always be weary accepting wire transfers or payments prematurely, and never spend or send funds until the cheque has officially cleared and the money is fully in your account.