Mystery shopping can be a great and fun way to earn extra money. It can get you out into your community and let you experience a variety of different businesses. For many, it might sound like a bit of a dream or even too good to be true. Perhaps, this is the reason a potential mystery shopper can get scammed. Mystery shopping is a very real industry, however, and legitimate mystery shopping companies do pay you to shop and evaluate businesses. Avoid mystery shopping scams by keeping the following in mind.

Never Pay or Wire Money
No reputable mystery shopping company will ask you to pay for a “certification” to become a mystery shopper. They will also not use newspaper ads or emails to recruit potential shoppers. If you are asked to pay money upfront, beware of a scam. Similarly, if you are asked to wire money as part of your first secret shopper “assignment” you are being scammed and should not wire any money. A real mystery shopping company will never ask you to pay them, but rather pay you for your work.

Do Your Research
The Mystery Shopping Providers Association (MSPA) is the trade association representing the mystery shopping industry. You can easily search for mystery shopping companies in your area that are members and can also be certified for free with the MSPA. Explore more the MSPA of North America more at Search online for reviews of mystery shopping companies and make sure to look thoroughly to avoid the possibility of just seeing positive reviews a scam might have paid to be made.

Safeguard Your Information
It’s important to always safeguard your personal or financial information and treat it with care. If someone contacts you asking you for your personal information online or by phone beware and refrain. You are likely dealing with mystery shopper frauds.

You can find out more about ways to avoid scams and how to file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission if you think you’ve seen one or more mystery shopper scams at Also, read about spotting misuse of the MSPA logo and its members’ logos at

If you enjoy shopping and are detail oriented, mystery shopping is a great way to earn extra money and can accommodate busy schedules. However, predators try to take advantage of this appeal to get you to part with your money and/or your personal information. Ensure the potential company you’re interested in is reputable by always doing your research and safeguarding your information.

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