There are literally hundreds of mystery shopping providers all offering legitimate work opportunities for mystery shoppers in need for additional assignments. However, mixed in with some of these legitimate mystery shopping providers are a few duds. Often these duds turn out to be scam artists in search of easy prey to turn a quick profit. If you’re looking at adding a few new mystery shopping providers to your work list, here’s what you need to know to ensure you are working with legitimate providers.
Check The List. There are dozens of lists of mystery shopping providers online. However, simply because a company is listed on a random website does not make the provider legitimate. There is only one list of providers that you can safely work off of, and that list is available from the industry’s trade association, the Mystery Shopping Providers Association. The MSPA can be located online at www.mysteryshop.com. In addition to providing you with a list of mystery shopping providers, the MSPA also is a source of information for the latest scams targeting the mystery shopping industry.
While other lists are posted online for free, you can’t always trust the information on them. There are also a handful of websites online that require you to pay for the most current list of mystery shopping providers. You never have to pay a fee for this information. The MSPA will provide you with this information for free.
Going A Step Further. After you’ve determined if a mystery shopping provider is legitimate through the MSPA’s list, you can take your provider research a step further by finding out additional information about the providers in question. Mystery shoppers are usually more than happy to provide you with information you need at the online mystery shopping forums. Here you can also find out from other mystery shoppers if a provider is legitimate, but you can also ask other important questions about the provider. For instance, you can find out how strict they are on their reporting answers, how fast or slow they pay, and so on.
Watch Out! Despite your best efforts, a dud of a provider may slip through the cracks from time to time. Some of the most recent scam providers targeting the mystery shopping industry involve cashing a large check in your bank account as well as making large purchases without being reimbursed for them. If you are even in doubt about an assignment or a provider, it is better to walk away. There are literally hundreds of providers to work for, so there is no need to take a chance. Also, keep in mind that while many legitimate assignments will ask for you to make small expenses (either reimbursed or not), the vast majority of legitimate assignments will not ask for you to make large purchases.
With so many mystery shopping providers out there to choose from, chances are you may stumble across a handful of shady companies. When in doubt, simply walk away. But you can also go a step beyond and let your mystery shopping community know about the possible scam as well by posting a comment on the online forums.