Watch Out for Mystery Shopping Scams
Find Legitimate Secret Shopper Opportunities
You may be interested in becoming a mystery shopper but have concerns about scams. There are legitimate opportunities available, but you need to be careful to avoid them. Here are some things you can do to weed out the good mystery shopping companies from the ones you should be wary of.
If you receive a postcard or flyer in the mail asking you to sign up as a mystery shopper, this may be a red flag.
To find out something about the mystery shopping companies you are considering working with, you can call or visit the Better Business Bureau website. This organization can tell you how long the company has been in business and whether any complaints have been made against it. In situations where a complaint has been made, you will learn whether it was resolved or not. This is valuable information that can help you decide whether the opportunity in front of you is something you would like to continue to pursue.
Another red flag when it comes to working as a mystery shopper is when a company wants you to pay money to work for them. Legitimate employers don't require you to pay a fee to get started. If a company suggests that you buy a guide or a manual as part of your training, ask if you can see a sample chapter first. A legitimate company will let you see one.
You may choose to take a training course or buy a book on the subject of mystery shopping to help you become a more effective mystery shopper, but whether a company hires you should not be dependent on completing the course they happen to offer. If you are told that you need to sign up for a course or buy a book before a company will give you assignments, then keep looking.
Be sure to ask how the mystery shopping company pays its contractors. Some companies will issue a check, and all you need to do in that case is provide your mailing address. Being paid electronically through Paypal is another safe way of getting paid, since your e-mail address is the only information you need to share with the company.
Taking the time to do your homework makes good sense before you start working with a mystery shopping company. There are a lot of legitimate ones operating, and the fact that there are some scams shouldn't hold you back from looking for this kind of work.