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Mystery Shopping Scams

by Nicole on October 21, 2010

I have been mystery shopping for almost 2 years now and am consistently amazed at the number of people who fall victim to mystery shopping scams.  In fact, I know there are many people out there who think that all mystery shopping is a scam.  I hope my numerous blog posts on the topic have proved that misconception wrong!

I think the most likely victim of a mystery shopping scam is a person who is not tech savvy and unfamiliar with the Internet.  If that’s you, please be extra careful!

Here are my 5 guidelines for avoiding mystery shopping scams:

1.  Sign up for legit companies only. Check out my blog posts about the companies I work with – I’ve been paid timely by all of them and have had good experiences.

2. Keep track of all of the companies you are signed up with. I keep a simple spreadsheet with the name of the company, website address and other information.  Respond to emails sent by these companies only.  Unsolicited mystery shopping emails may be scams.

3. Research all offers! If you receive an offer from a company you aren’t signed up with (and I haven’t blogged about), do your research! Check out the Mystery Shoppers Providers Association as well as for the forums on Volition.  Google the company and check out what is being said about them.

4. Discuss with friends. While revealing which companies shop which stores is a violation of your ICA agreement with each company, it’s ok to discuss companies and reputations with others.  Send me an email or post on a forum and you’ll likely receive great information about the company you are investigating.

5. If it sounds too good to be true then it probably is! If someone is offering you a $1,000 fee for cashing a check or some other similar transaction then it is likely a scam – you should be paid in proportion to the work you are doing.  Use common sense!

It’s easy to spot scams in mystery shopping especially if you go through the steps I have outlined.  There are MANY legit companies and assignments out there!

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Lisa Morosky October 23, 2010 at 3:59 pm

“If it sounds too good to be true then it probably is!” <–So true. Totally applies to any online work you do.

I've done a little bit of mystery shopping, and I think the biggest key is to research companies and make sure they're legit. :)

Thanks for the reminders!

2 kjordan October 25, 2010 at 9:56 pm

Hey there. Was wondering if you’d be kind enough to explain what it means to be paid via paypal? Does paypal mail one a check or does the money store with them for use in other internet transactions. Thank you for any explanation. :) ps. love your website!!

3 nicolesnickels October 25, 2010 at 9:59 pm

Paypal is a free service to use to collect and pay money. You create an account and the company pays you in your account. You can request a check or a direct deposit into your bank account. Check out for more info.

4 kjordan October 25, 2010 at 11:13 pm

Thank you! I’ve bookmarked your site and am excited to have reading material! I truly appreciate your prompt, polite response.

5 Amy Orvin February 20, 2012 at 9:39 pm

Thanks for the valuable tips. It pays to be safe when you shop online .

6 Krys R May 17, 2012 at 8:41 pm

I saw something about this on one of the news shows. “If it sounds too good to be true then it probably is!” is great advice to follow on these things.

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