Getting paid to shop sounds like a fantasy for most people, which is why so many mystery shopping scams have popped up over the years.
Companies take advantage of men and women who would love the opportunity to secret shop. There are some legitimate opportunities out there, but they are hard to find.
What is secret shopping?
Secret shopping, also known as mystery shopping, is often misunderstood. It’s not a way to just get free meals at fancy restaurants or get paid to shop.
According to the Mystery Shopping Providers Association (MSPA), “A mystery shopper is a person who visits an establishment (typically a retail store, bank, restaurant or other such places where the public does business) for the purpose of observing and measuring customer service, product quality and the environment of the establishment in general.”
The company will usually give you their expectations for the visit ahead of time, and then you complete a report afterward, usually in an online form.
You are usually paid a small fee per job and reimbursed for your meal or shopping expenses up to a certain amount.
“Secret shopping is something
people do to make extra cash.”
Become a secret shopper:
The MSPA is a legitimate organization that lists real jobs and offers information about avoiding scams. You can trust opportunities that come from companies that belong to this association.
Not all companies that are not members are scams, but you won’t find scams when you go through this organization.
Avoiding a scam:
If you encounter any of the following tactics, the mystery shopping opportunity is likely a scam:
- An application fee for a mystery shopping opportunity
- Too-good-to-be-true claims, like earning $100 an hour or getting to keep designer clothes
- Companies that send you a check and ask you to deposit it and send a portion back to them (called an overpayment scam)
- Unsolicited emails or letters in the mail asking you to be a mystery or secret shopper
- Businesses that ask for your bank account number to wire you money
When you see an opportunity for secret shopping, do your research to make sure it looks legitimate.
For example, if you got an offer that looked like it was from Walmart, some quick research would tell you Walmart publicly shares that it never solicits secret shoppers.
Anyone claiming to be acting on behalf of Walmart is running a scam. If you are a victim of a scam, please report it to the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) or the Better Business Bureau to help protect other people like you.
If you want to make some extra money this holiday season, you can do it by secret shopping.
However, note that some of the secret shopping jobs are low-paying, and there may not always be many jobs available in your area.
You also have to worry about dodging plentiful scams. If you need consistent, reliable seasonal work, it may not be the best opportunity, but it can be done if you are determined.
Photo Source: brittanylee.me