There are so many people who want to get involved in mystery shopping. Mystery shopping is a wonderful to earn cash around a busy schedule. Whether you want to pick up a few assignments each month for some extra spending cash or you want to make mystery shopping your regular job, the opportunity is there for the taking. However, while so many people want to make a go of mystery shopping, many people are stymied when it comes to figuring out how to find legitimate jobs. So how do you find legitimate mystery shopping jobs?
MSPA. The MSPA (Mystery Shopping Providers Association) is generally considered to be the authority for mystery shopping providers. Most all of the legitimate mystery shopping providers are registered with the MSPA, and the MSPA publishes a free list of its members to you online at www.mysteryshop.org. There are many websites that offer to sell a list of providers to you, but you should never have to pay for this information.
Check the Forums. Some scam artists have gotten tricky in recent years. They are assuming the name of legitimate mystery shopping providers, or are assuming the name of a very similar name as a legitimate company. If you aren’t familiar with how the mystery shopping industry works, it can be tricky to figure out which assignments are legitimate and which are not. There are several online mystery shopping forums where hundreds of real mystery shoppers gather together to share information. They will share information about their job experiences, their pay, their challenges, and so on. Most importantly for new mystery shoppers, however, they will also share information on top providers to work for as well as the latest information about scams that are targeting mystery shoppers. These sites are open for new mystery shoppers to join, so if you have a question about the legitimacy of a provider or an assignment, feel free to make a post to these forums and get great feedback from real providers. One of the most popular forums is www.mysteryshopforum.com.
Get Paid to Work (Not to Find Work). As a mystery shopper, you may be asked to make a small purchase during an assignment. Many assignments will require a minimum $5 or $10 purchase, but generally this purchase will be reimbursed to you with your shop pay. Some assignments will allow you to keep your purchase and others will require you to return the purchase. Aside from a small purchase like this, you should never have to pay to work as a mystery shopper. You should not have to pay for a list of providers, or to sign up to work for a provider. If you stumble across a website that requires you to pay up-front, keep on searching for new providers and pass that one up.
Report Scams. From the outset, mystery shopping may seem like a very remote job where you work out of your house and correspond with your employers mostly by email and online. However, the mystery shopping world is actually pretty tight knit, thanks in large part to the online forums. If you come across a scam, take a few minutes to let other mystery shoppers know about the scam by posting your experience online at the forums. You should also report your experience to the authorities, including the Attorney General’s office.
Many would-be mystery shoppers shy away from this job because of the potential for scams. However, while some mystery shoppers stumble across these scams from time to time, the truth is that most mystery shoppers work happily in the industry for many years without problem. You simply need to be aware of the possibility of scam artists targeting you, and use the resources available to you to protect yourself.