Possible Mystery Shopping Scams

Mystery shopping is something that I see more and more people interested in. There are many positives of mystery shopping, which has lead to many people creating fraudulent mystery shopping companies. You are better than that though, don’t fall for any mystery shopping scams!

Mystery shopping most likely won’t get you rich, but it is a way to put some extra cash in your pocket. Be safe with what the mystery shopping companies that you do decide to use.

 

Related Stories:

Mystery Shopping: Can You Really Get Paid to Shop?

Insider Tips for Finding Reputable Mystery Shopping Companies

What You Should Know About Mystery Shopper Certification

10 Valuable Tips to Spot Mystery Shopping Scams

 

There are many ways that you can possibly be scammed when trying to find a good mystery shopping company.

 

Possible Mystery Shopping Scams

Photo Credit

They ask you to pay upfront.

Are you asked to pay for the products beforehand? This might be a scam. Or, maybe they asked you to send cash to them first before you are allowed to do any mystery shops, then that is most likely a scam as well.

 

You are asked to send a check.

Lots of scammers will ask if they can send you a check and then you refund the difference. That is a scam! Do not deposit a check and then give them the difference in cash. You will then be out of all of the money. Why would they even need you to do this? Surprisingly, many people fall for this scam each and every single day.

 

They ask you to pay for a bunch of certifications.

I have never had to pay for a certification before I mystery shopped, but I have heard that some companies prefer you to have certifications or licenses. However, be careful! You can do a license search such as on License Direct to see what other successful mystery shoppers have.

Some of these companies are just complete scams and they want you to pay high amounts for training and then their certification doesn’t actually mean anything. Make sure that you are going through a reputable company. Do plenty of research before you pay for anything.

 

What other mystery shopping scams have you heard of?

 

Should You Become a Mystery Shopper?

I have been mystery shopping for a couple of years now, and whenever I tell someone about it, they always have many questions. I know, I understand, I was the same way before I realized that you could actually make money from mystery shopping!

There are many positives of mystery shopping, and today I will be listing those! Mystery shopping is definitely not a get-rich quick scheme, and you may not be able to make enough to quit your day job (don’t worry those, most cannot), but it can be a nice way to make some extra money on the side.

 

Related Stories:

10 Valuable Tips to Spot Mystery Shopping Scams

Mystery Shopping: Can You Really Get Paid to Shop?

Insider Tips for Finding Reputable Mystery Shopping Companies

What You Should Know About Mystery Shopper Certification

 

You can get things for cheap, or FREE.

One positive of mystery shopping is that you can get items for free.  Who doesn’t like free things? However, there are some downsides. If you have to drive a very long way to get something for free, are you really getting it for free? This is something to think about when you are signing up for mystery shops.

Every now and then, there are some really awesome mystery shops through the company that I use. My favorite is the $100 nice dinner for completely free.

The extra money is nice.

Like I said earlier, making a lot of money from mystery shopping would be very hard. For a lot of shops though, you can get free items, and some reimbursement for your time for some mystery shops.

There is a flexible schedule.

When mystery shopping, you can make your own schedule. You usually can complete a mystery shop within a period of a couple of days, or you can complete it within a certain about of time.

You can sign up for the mystery shops that you want to do.

You don’t have to sign up for mystery shops that you don’t want to. You can sign up for what you want to and the days that you want. Different people like to do different mystery shops. For me, I prefer to mainly only do mystery shops that give me free nice dinners or free makeup. I also like doing mystery shops for stores that I already shop at.

So, this means that I hardly ever sign up for mystery shops at places that I don’t care about. However, some people sign up for all types of mystery shops, it’s all up to you! And that is what is great about mystery shopping. You can do what you want.

Have you thought about mystery shopping? Why or why not?

 

Mystery Shopping Scams

Mystery shopping can be a decent way to make money on the side. However, there are always many people out there trying to scam you, which is why many people think that all mystery shopping jobs are scams. However, they are not. They are plenty of real mystery shopping companies and jobs out there.

Here are some tips so that you can find legitimate mystery shopping jobs.

Know where to look.

There are many mystery shopping companies out there, and some of them may be fake. Do your research on mystery shopping companies. If you are still not sure, ask people who mystery shop directly. Of course, make sure that you can trust this person, but if you can, then you just found a good company that you can most likely count on.

Be realistic with mystery shopping and the money that you can possibly make.

Making thousands and being able to live purely off of mystery shopping is not very realistic. Most people don’t make a live-able wage from mystery shopping. For the most part, mystery shopping just helps you get products for free, such as free dinner or free lunch.

Mystery shopping also may sound easy, but usually it’s a very tedious process. Most of the time you are not answering just a couple of questions. For example, for a dinner mystery shop, you may be answering 10 pages full of questions.

Mystery Shopping Scams

http://www.flickr.com/photos/jgoge123/7442970046/

 

Related Stories:

What You Should Know About Mystery Shopper Certification

Mystery Shopping: Can You Really Get Paid to Shop?

Insider Tips for Finding Reputable Mystery Shopping Companies

10 Valuable Tips to Spot Mystery Shopping Scams

 

Be wary of mystery shop companies that make you pay.

I have done plenty of mystery shops. I have probably done over 100. And, in those 100 mystery shops, I have never once had to pay a dime before I was able to sign up for something. Yes, you have to buy the mystery shop items up front (such as dinner, the clothing item, etc.), but you should not have to pay in order to “qualify” for a mystery shop.

Have you ever done a mystery shop? Have you ever come across any scams?

 

 

A quiet night in: an exercise in frugal saving.

image1As much as any couple, family or group of friends might like going out, it’s never cheap. Whether it’s fine dining or going out to your local bar or restaurant, these are costs that add up all too easily. They may seem cheap once in a while but once you start doing it on a weekly or semi-regular basis, it becomes a larger and larger chunk of your expenses.

In contrast to this, understanding the benefits of a quiet night in can prove useful. More than offering something different and relaxing it can demonstrate a way to stay cheap and cost effective whilst still enjoying the usual perks of life.

Food

If you go out to eat, you should know how much this can cost. Cooking for yourself is usually the cheapest but there are still other options. For instance, if you have the urge for Chinese food, it may be cheaper for everyone to pool money together for chinese takeaways than visit your local restaurant. It’s much cheaper and doesn’t have the added costs of additional drinks and restaurant prices and other service charges that are often forgotten about.

Entertainment

Likewise, if you’re not going out, there is nothing to stop you from being social. Your home can prove entertaining enough with the right company. Cheap entertainment can be anything from a movie rental (if you’re only going to watch it once, don’t buy something you don’t need) to various games, which offer entertainment again and again. These are all cheap, whether you use it once or buy it to use again and again. This is another lesson to be learnt in saving, by understanding the real value of something.

If you come across some movies that you and your friends love, it makes sense to purchase the DVD so you can all watch it whenever you like. Luckily, you can save money by ordering your DVDs online, so you do not have to worry about breaking the bank. To make things more interesting, consider having each person purchase a DVD online and then choosing between your favorites every time you gather.

Additional expenses

Hopefully the two areas above should highlight how easy it is to cut down on those little costs for every social occasion but there are always other areas to look at. Take your appearance, for instance. If you don’t go out to an expensive restaurant you might not need to risk your best shirt or shoes. It can also save on other expenses, such as getting a taxi home late if you’ve been drinking or other travel costs.  So, next time you think you might go out, suggest staying in to the others and see how much can be saved.

10 Tips to Become the Best Mystery Shopper Ever

Money Making Ideas: Best Mystery ShopperWhile no one has ever made Fortune’s Richest list working as a mystery shopper, it is undeniably true that you can actually get paid to shop. To advance and turn this into a steady stream of income however, you need to treat it as a professional position, and not as a hobby or occasional activity. Here are some tips on how you can earn a reputation among the companies you shop for as the best mystery shopper, and sky rocket your earning potential.

Many people make money by mystery shopping, so why not you?

1.  Get Certified

While most mystery shopping companies don’t require special training, obtaining your certification demonstrates that you’re serious about excelling in the job. The MSPA offers two levels of certification: Silver, which costs $15, takes about an hour, and measures your basic skills; and Gold, a DVD-plus-exam course which will cost $99 (plus shipping and taxes). Believe it or not, there’s more to being a good mystery shopper than wielding a creditcard and filling out some forms; MSPA training will help you take your money making ideas to the next level. And while there are literally millions of potential shoppers listed in company databases, only a relative few have bothered to get certified. Your certification will help you stand out among the competition and earn some of the higher-paying assignments.

2.  Make a Good First Impression

You don’t have to dress up in a business suit or heels to interview with a mystery shopping company. You don’t even have to brush your teeth.But when you fill out those online applications, take care to do so as your best self. Don’t skip blanks, be honest, check your spelling and grammar, and be thorough. The more information you provide, the more likely it is that you’ll be chosen for assignments that fit your qualifications. Another crucial step: if you move, remember to update all of your online profiles. You don’t want to be contacted about shops in Indiana when you’re now living in North Carolina!

3.  Show Up

Sounds basic, doesn’t it? But for whatever reason, many would-be mystery shoppers don’t take their commitment seriously. They don’t show up, the shop doesn’t happen, the client is unhappy, the agency is unhappy, and the shopper wonders why she isn’t getting any more assignments. Just because you don’t punch a clock, it doesn’t mean that you can be cavalier about your job. Show up, do good work, and watch your star rise. Another helpful tip: if you can build a reputation as someone who can fill in quickly in an emergency, you’ll enhance your reputation and be the go-to person for other assignments.

4.  Follow Directions

Each shopping assignment you receive will have its own particular instructions. Each company you work for will have a unique routine, and each client will be looking for certain service points. Even if you’ve worked for this company before, or it’s the twentieth time you’ve shopped that restaurant, read the instructions carefully to avoid making mistakes that will lead to a rejected report. This conscientious attention will help you bring your money making ideas to fruition.

5.  Ask Questions

Sometimes, your assignment will not be as clear as it should be. When this happens, don’t be afraid to contact the company or your scheduler for clarification. You’ll look smart, rather than foolish. It’s better to take the extra time to make sure you know what you’re doing than to assume that you do, only to find out you were wrong.

6.  Be a Detail Person

Vague shopping reports help no one. Writing that the “brown-haired clerk took too long to wait on me,” only tells the client that you were impatient. However, a report that states “Rhonda at register 2 took twenty minutes to get to me because she was talking to the customer in front of me, who was apparently a good friend from high school,” allows the client to help Rhonda improve her performance. Remember, when you’re on a shop, you’re working. Observe, take notes (you can do this surreptitiously on your cell phone, under pretext of texting), use (again, sneakily) a stop watch, and focus on the transaction. Don’t let your mind wander or you run the risk of forgetting an important detail. By writing complete reports, you give the client what they need and increase your chances of landing more–and better–assignments.

7.  Grammar Counts!  So Does Spelling.

Like it or not, the ability to communicate clearly and properly in both speaking and writing is a hallmark of an educated person–the kind of person every company looks for. Make sure you proofread applications, reports, and every other communication you have with your agency. If English is not your first language or your strong suit, invest in a refresher course or a few good guides. This is effort that will pay off, not only in your mystery shopping, but in every personal interaction. Money making ideas often require a little investment in personal improvement!

8.  Be Prompt

When you receive your assignment, you’ll be given a time frame in which to accomplish it. This deadline is not arbitrary; it was determined by the client’s needs. First, be sure that you can meet the deadline when you accept the job. Then, do the shop and file the report on time. If you find you can’t complete your assignment during the time frame, due to an emergency, let your contact know as soon as possible so that he or she can schedule another shopper. Don’t fall into the habit of waiting until the last minute; you never know when a flat tire, sick kid, or computer disaster will leave you scrambling.  Again, the key is to treat your mystery shop just as you would a job in which you keep a time card.

9.  Be Organized

As a mystery shopper, you’re self-employed. Even though you may have a scheduler or two sending you assignments, you’re the one who has to keep track of where you need to go and when you need to be there. This can be hard if you do it using scrap paper and random post-its with cryptic notes like “CVS.” Drugstores? Curriculum vitae? Who knows? And you found it on the floor of the minivan buried under two magazines and a backpack. Was it important?

So you can see, it’s important to keep it professional from the beginning. Set up a desk or other area in your home that is only for your mystery shopping work (not school papers, bills, or other clutter). Designate file folders and drawers for receipts, check stubs, assignment information, reports, and other material.  Keep track of invoices and reports electronically and always, always back up your files. Keep records of the usernames and passwords you’ve created for all of the job sites you access and update them as needed. Write down your assignments and information in a dedicated calendar (or use your smart phone) and carry it with you so that you don’t miss a job. By treating yourself as a professional, you’ll ensure your success.

10.  Keep Secrets

Let’s face it: mystery shopping is a fun, fascinating job. You get to visit stores, restaurants, and other businesses you might not otherwise. You may have the chance to enjoy high-value assignments, such as hotel and resort stays. Perhaps you’ll test drive a luxury car. The whole undercover gig is exciting, particularly if you need to adopt a persona or wear hidden audio or video equipment. It’s like you’re James Bond–in the mall!

But as much as you’d love to regale your friends and relatives with some of the more entertaining shop stories, you can’t. Your friends have friends who have friends who have friends…and at least one of them will work on one of your job sites. The more people who know you’re a mystery shopper, the more likely it is your cover will be blown and your effectiveness compromised. You’ll lose that assignment, and maybe others. Another consideration is client confidentiality. Businesses hire mystery shopping companies because they wish to make a genuine effort to improve their customer service. If you entertain your friends with stories of a particularly bad shopping experience, you’re damaging their reputation and–by extension–that of your employer. If your mystery shopping provider is dropped because of something you say, you may lose your job. So as hard as it may be, keep your lips sealed!

These are just a few ways to build your reputation as a professional mystery shopper. Keep improving yourself by constantly checking out online sites and blogs related to mystery shopping, attend training courses, and visit mystery shopping forums. Keep learning, keep doing, keep growing, and keep trying new money making ideas—the sky’s the limit!

10 Reasons Why You Should Become a Mystery Shopper

Yes, there is a Mystery Shopper. There are thousands, in fact, and they travel about every day, continuing to make glad (hopefully) the hearts of employers with reports of great service, attractive stores and excellent products. And if you’re reliable, with an eye for detail and a certain knack for, well, subterfuge, mystery shopping may be a great way for you to earn some extra money, and have fun doing it! After all, mystery shopping offers…

1. Flexible Hours

As a mystery shopper, you’re an independent contractor who will work from home. You get to decide which assignments to accept. Now, when you do choose one, you’ll have to complete it within the given time frame; however, you don’t have to choose work which conflicts with your personal schedule. This gives you a measure of independence, and the ability to fit your work into your life, instead of the other way ‘round.

2. Helping Business Owners Succeed

On the face of it, mystery shopping may seem like a frivolous enterprise–you “get paid for shopping,” right? However, what you’re really doing is providing a quality control measurement. The clothing store owner who notices her business falling off might never attribute it to an unpleasant staff member if your report didn’t point it out, for example. And the chicken franchise manager who learns that his food doesn’t meet the temperature requirements can make the necessary changes before the health department inspection, or before someone becomes ill. It can be hard for business people to see the flaws in their establishments. Mystery shopping services help bring these to light before they prove fatal.

 

Related Stories:

Mystery Shopping: Can You Really Get Paid to Shop?

Insider Tips for Finding Reputable Mystery Shopping Companies

What You Should Know About Mystery Shopper Certification

10 Valuable Tips to Spot Mystery Shopping Scams

 

3.  Advocating for Consumers

The flip side of this is, of course that, as a mystery shopper, you’re also working for the consumer. Customers want friendly service. They want clean bathrooms, good selection, helpful staff and safe parking lots. They don’t always get them, and sometimes their complaints can be overlooked. But you, as a representative of the mystery shopping company, have greater credibility. Your evaluations can make shopping a more pleasurable, even healthy, experience for everyone.

4. Perks!

Mystery shopping doesn’t offer benefits like insurance or retirement savings… but it does have some perks. You’re reimbursed for purchases, meaning that, while your pay per “mission” may be small, you do end up with some freebies. And who doesn’t love free stuff? And, if you have mystery shopper certification, you  may land some gigs with luxurious perks. Imagine, you may never pay full price at a classy restaurant again! [Read more…]

10 Valuable Tips to Spot Mystery Shopping Scams

The idea of “being my own boss” is appealing to many people. Whether you’re a mother, a student, senior citizen, or just someone who likes to have control over her working life, the notion that you can have flexible hours and an income directly tied to your own money making ideas is attractive. Unfortunately, the self-employment / work-at-home field is filled with people who make their money by scamming others. Mystery shopping is no exception.

First, remember: mystery shopping itself is not a scam! Every day, thousands of people visit stores, restaurants, hotels, apartment complexes, and other businesses and get paid to shop by filing detailed reports on the quality of their experience. Companies use this information to improve their customer service. Mystery shopping is not a highly-compensated job; most people earn a little extra money and some “treats,” such as free restaurant meals. Getting started is fairly straightforward. However, to do so, you may need to dodge a minefield of scams. Here’s how to spot them…

1.  Be Skeptical

Ironically, one of the reasons why scammers continue to be successful is that, most people are fundamentally honest. They would never try to take someone else’s money under false pretenses, and so they can’t imagine anyone would do this to them. But they will. [Read more…]

What You Should Know About Mystery Shopper Certification

Do you think mystery shopping as one of the money making ideas that will work for you? Or have you already started, but looking for ways to improve your skills and take on better assignments?  Then consider earning your Mystery Shopper Certification. Simple, convenient, and affordable, the Mystery Shopping Providers Association’s two certifications programs will give you what you need to take your mystery shopping income to the next level.

Why Should I Obtain My Certification?

As occupations develop, they tend to professionalize, and mystery shopping is no exception. The Mystery Shopping Providers Association (MSPA) was founded in an effort to establish ethics and standards for this growing industry. Currently, they have over 400 member companies worldwide, all of whom are looking for trained, reliable personnel. When you go to the effort (and minimal expense) required to earn your certification, you’re sending a signal to your chosen agencies that you’re serious about making quality judgments that will be valuable to their clients. Your credentials say that you’re reliable, dedicated, and intelligent; mystery shopping is more than just one of the money making ideas to you–and you take it seriously. This in turn makes them take you seriously.

While certification is not currently required to be a mystery shopper, it’s one qualification that will make you stand out in a crowd of applicants. All other things being equal, a certified shopper will be more likely to land an assignment (and an assignment of higher quality) than one who is not certified.

How Much Does It Cost?

[Read more…]

Insider Tips for Finding Reputable Mystery Shopping Companies

One of the best things about working as a mystery shopper is that you can get paid to shop. You decide when you work, where you work and, to some extent, how you work. Of course one of the worst things about being a mystery shopper is that you run your own show. You don’t go into the office every day to find a list of shopping assignments waiting for you. As boss, secretary, and employee of You, Inc., you’ve got to come up with those opportunities yourself. Fortunately, there are some reliable sources out there which can lead you to the shopping opportunities you’re looking for, insuring that your money making ideas work for you.

The MSPA Website

The Mystery Shopping Providers’ Association (MSPA) was established to bring professional standards to the mystery shopping business. It currently represents over 400 companies worldwide, hosts industry conventions, has implemented a shopper training and certification program, and dedicates itself to helping mystery shopping become an ethical occupation which provides clients with reliable information on how to improve their customer service. For shoppers themselves, MSPA provides online forums, a resource page, and a list of job assignments under the sobriquet, jobslinger.  If you would like to look up company websites that are MSPA members, they also have a list of members.

Online Mystery Shopping Blogs

[Read more…]

Mystery Shopping: Can You Really Get Paid to Shop?

Part fun, part spying – mystery shopping has held its allure on the masses since the 1940’s. What started as a means for companies to keep tabs on employee integrity has evolved into a $600 million dollar industry in the US alone. If you would like to explore one of the most intriguing money making ideas where you can get paid to shop, then this series of articles is for you. In this first segment, we will help you determine if you are cut out to be a mystery shopper. If you think this is the right option for you, then check out the other articles in the mystery shopping category to learn more about avoiding scams, finding legitimate companies and much more.

Prerequisites

If you really want to become a mystery shopper, you’ll find these qualities advantageous as you build your reputation –

  • The ability to manage your time, money, and records effectively
  • The ability to write clear, grammatically correct reports, using correct spelling.
  • The ambition necessary to seek out shopping assignments, rather than waiting for them to come to you
  • People skills
  • A good memory; you can’t take notes during a mystery shopping trip
  • A credit card; although you can usually pay for your purchases with cash or check, some (particularly those in higher-paying jobs) may be expensive. As you may have to wait a couple of weeks for your company to reimburse you, a credit card could prove useful.
  • A computer, or easy access to one
  • A cellphone or watch with a stopwatch function, to time transactions when required
  • Silver or Gold certification from the MSPA (Mystery Shopping Providers’ Assoc.). Again, this is not essential, but it will give you the advantage when it comes to landing assignments
  • Clothing that will allow you to “fit in” at the places you shop
  • The ability to give an honest, accurate assessment of your transaction, without worrying that you’ll hurt someone’s feelings.
  • The ability, on occasion, to pretend to be someone you’re not
  • Patience and perseverance: it takes time and experience to work up to those posh shops
  • A PayPal account

Initial Investment

[Read more…]