How to Identify Mystery Shopping Scams Companies
Mystery Shopping

How to Identify Mystery Shopping Scams Companies

EPF February 20, 2015

Mystery shopping is one of the best jobs for one to make some extra cash but it can also bring you financial hurdles if not careful. There are a lot of mystery shopping agencies that offer legitimate jobs. What’s more, they have real websites and physical addresses which are transparent and easy to reach. The tricky part is, such jobs are few and not easily available. In so doing, people seize this opportunity by opening up fake mystery shopper accounts in a bid to take advantage of unknowing consumers.

There has also been a lot of misconception regarding what mystery shopper is. Unfortunately, this misconception leads people to falling for mystery shopping scams. In spite of its legitimacy, and many companies hiring shoppers to work for them, many people still find themselves being ripped off.It’s therefore important to check out for any red flags every time you sign up.

What to look out for in mystery shopping scam websites.

All legitimate Mystery shopping companies work hard to ensure they provide the best service to the clients they represent. They are also part of the Mystery shopping Providers Association, which work under a strict code of ethics for all clients represented. In order to avoid being duped into falling for shopping scam websites, it’s important to consider a number of factors as outlined below;

  • Paying upfront fees– I know this is one of the greatest mistakes that newbie’s make when signing up on mystery shopping websites. If any job asks you to pay upfront fees to apply then it’s definitely scam. Most probably offer a fake certification or asking for payments in order to link you to companies that hire mystery shoppers.There is a lot of information online on how to go about finding these companies. Ultimately, paying it upfront would be a wrong idea.
  • Promises of higher income–This is a common phenomenon not only with mystery shopping jobs. Some jobs offers would try and woe you by offering hefty paychecks or other benefits. They will go ahead and make you promises such as staying in nice hotels, free grocery shopping or making hundreds of dollars every month. What mystery shoppers usually do is offer a flat fee which can be used in their store/ business. They also provide a small compensation fee for any purchases made. If you fall for any Mystery shopping provider offering anything more than this then it’s a cause for alarm.
  • Applications addressed to a P.O.BOX–In order to identify whether a job offer is legitimate or not it’s important that you check on either the National or Regional address.A lot of people would tend to ignore the address of the company they are sending the application to, which is definitely not okay. If you for instance note that the local store is situated in Nashville, and your application isreferenced to an apartment in Nebraska then something is not right.
  • Unsolicited emails – It’s quite easy to get unsolicited emails from mystery shopping companies that you had not registered with them before. Therefore, it’s important to be cautious about the emails you reply to. If you did not sign-up at any given company and their mail reaches your inbox then it’s probably scam. It’s also easy to spot scammers since they mostly use fake generic email domains such as, and so on. Legitimate mystery shopping outlets will send their email using the company’s email domain. For example, if you have signed up at ACE then you’ll have as their mail domain.
  • Personal information Inquiries – You might be asked for credit card number of social security number in your application. If this happens then it’s advisable to inquire from customer protection agencies or better business bureau in order to ensure that you are dealing with a legitimate company.

Tips for Finding Legitimate Mystery Shopping Jobs.

With the cropping of mystery shopping outlets, how do you tell whether an offer is real or not? For starters, most companies don’t bother advertising for such positions on the local dailies. There is also an association called Mystery shoppers who charge a small fee in order to certify mystery shoppers. It’s a legitimate association that has been around for quite a long time offering opportunities for clients to get access to companies hiring mystery shoppers.

One of the signs to look out for in a legitimate offer is modest payment. In most cases you are usually paid a flat fee of $10 for a single shipping assignment. The shoppers would also expect to earn $10 for about an hour.It’s therefore important to be cautious about where you are applying the job to. If you think the offer sounds scam then most it probably is. It’s also easy to sign up at any of these companies and it doesn’t cost a thing.

In order to become a legitimate mystery shopper it’s important to check out information from libraries, bookstores or online sites to find legitimate companies hiring shoppers. It’s also advisable to search the Internet for reviews and comments about mystery shopping companies that accept applications online. Even though this is a brilliant idea it’s upon you to dig dipper since some companies pay individuals to post positive reviews. Legit firms would never charge individuals to work for them instead you will be paid for any task accomplished.

Any company that would ask you to wire money is fraud and should be avoided.  You can easily get access to assignments through Mystery Shopping Providers Association website at It has a collection of assignments and you can easily learn how to apply. There are several certifications on offer but you are not required to have any of them in order to apply for assignments.

You can do business with mystery shopping promoters but it’s important to look out for a few factors before going into business. Avoid any promoters that advertise on newspaper especially in ‘help wanted’ section. Anyone that requires you to pay for “certification” or guarantees you a job at mystery shopper is a total scam. Also be on the lookout for those who offer a fee to access mystery shopping opportunities. Lastly if you have any complaint or have seen mystery shopping scam you can file a complaint with either the federal trade commission or your state Attorney general.

Current scams sites you should be aware of.

Some sites offer trial assignments which involves signing up to different online services and should be avoided at all times. The trial assignments offered involves signing up at online services such as Netflix. You are required to mystery shop for a service which is meant as a test to evaluate your shopping abilities. Catch being, if the assignment is used then you will be paid handsomely.

It’s also important to note that every trial service conducted on platforms would require you to provide credit card information or bank details. Even though these services don’t charge you anything, they will still skim your payment details using the link provided and take money from your account. These scammers are very creative and might even send emails with warnings about mystery shopping scams.

You might also receive text messages from Mystery Shoppers inviting you for an offer. If you ever get such messages or any other that you didn’t request then know it’s probably scam. No reputable company would recruit shoppers by sending text messages to them. Also keep in mind that not all advertisements on job sites are scam and it’s important to read on top of the page in order to spot scam.

You also need to watch out for UK Mystery shopper Employment Agencies. These agencies are fond of charging registration fee to get access to a list of survey companies. The only way you can get in touch is through email, but still you get automated response. Also check out for advanced fee scams. This is how advanced fee scam work; you will be required to take assignments which will be refunded in advance. The money funding used is mostly by cheque or money order. They will then request you to send surplus money after deducting your shopping fee. When you head to check your money at the bank you will be left out of pocket.

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