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It is very difficult to know where to start when first deciding to mystery shop. There is anabundance of scams both online...
time, and will also send you emails of new assignments in your area as they becomeavailable. Shadow shopper is one of the ...
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Finding Real Mystery Shopping Jobs And Avoiding Scams


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How to Locate Legitimate Mystery Shopping Assignments and Identify Scams. Article written by Kelly Truelove, CEO of Integrity Consultants. Integrity Consultants is a Mystery Shopping and Market Research Service Provider; Member of the Better Business Bureau (BBB), Mystery Shopping Providers Association (MSPA), National Association for Retail Marketing Services (NARMS), and International Association of Service Evaluators (IASE). Please visit Integrity Consultants on Facebook at: and Market Research Pros at: for available jobs, informative articles, discussion and networking with mystery shoppers, service providers, and other industry professionals. Visit Integrity Consultants online at: and on Twitter @IntegrityConMRP or LinkedIn at: and

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Finding Real Mystery Shopping Jobs And Avoiding Scams

  1. 1. It is very difficult to know where to start when first deciding to mystery shop. There is anabundance of scams both online and in print and other media. As an industry, we try tokeep each other informed by posting on blogs or forums and including the information inresource and networking groups. Companies also try to post on their home page or blogwhen they become aware of a scam currently plaguing the industry or utilizing theircompany name in an attempt to gain the trust of that companys associates for thepurposes of fraud.One of the most widely known scams in the industry right now is a check cashing scam.In this case, an unsuspecting mystery shopper receives a check in the mail for a large sumof money and instructions to purchase a money gram, open a checking account, or wirethe majority of the money to the sender or third party. The sender claims that theassignment is to evaluate the facilities and personnel performing these transactions andthat the remainder of the money, usually several hundred dollars or more, is the mysteryshoppers fee. In every case Ive observed, the check is counterfeit, and the company isillegitimate or has had complaints regarding fraudulent activity. I received several ofthese checks several months ago, as had several of my colleagues. After calling banksand federal law enforcement agencies, it was discovered that this was in fact the case. Nolegitimate mystery shopping or support company will ever send you a check unless itsfor an assignment you have already completed, and support companies in the industryhave no reason to send a check to a mystery shopper. If you receive a check from acompany, even if it is claiming to be from a company that you know to be legitimate, donot cash it. Destroy it or turn it over to law enforcement agencies.You should never pay for a list of companies or access to the "best" jobs. I haveresearched several sites claiming to be a mystery shopping service or support companythat are actually nothing more than an unethical case of entrepreneurship. For the mostpart, once a company posts an assignment on a forum, blog, or other public resource, itbecomes public information. What I have repeatedly found is that sites are taking thosepostings, packaging them up, and selling either the postings themselves or access to thepostings for a monthly fee of up to $30. While some would argue that this is anenterprising endeavor, what makes it unethical is that in every case I’ve seen, postingshave been created for assignments that don’t exist, or a real posting has been altered toinclude a location for which the company has no assignment. I have even seen cases ofIntegrity Consultants postings being altered and our headlines and titles being replacedwith terribly misleading and fraudulent information. I’ve seen shop fees changed andtitles such as, “Easy Shop” placed on a post for a specialized project that has a 3-hourtime commitment and strict requirements. To add insult to injury, more often than notthe postings are outdated. I’ve received emails with altered copies of postings from aproject that was done 6 months prior. I have attempted to contact such companies andask for a scheduler’s account from which to post my own shops to ensure their accuracy,as that is what legitimate support companies for the industry do. I’ve never once beensuccessful in achieving that goal, leading me to believe that there is no desire whatsoeverto work with industry providers or within the confines of ethical business practices.There are a number of free resources available to you that will allow you to access theinformation you need. Whats even better is that these free resources are some of theplaces where we as companies go first, so the information shouldnt be outdated orinaccurate like it is elsewhere. There is only one site that charges a small fee that I wouldrecommend, and the fee is for their service, not the information. This was the only time Iever spent money as a shopper and got what I paid for. Shadow Shopper will allow you tosearch the job board, which contains up to 400,000 assignments or more at any given
  2. 2. time, and will also send you emails of new assignments in your area as they becomeavailable. Shadow shopper is one of the first places most companies post their shops, andthere are even some companies who do not post anywhere else. Schedulers can alsocontact you directly from this site with opportunities, making it a great resource forcompanies, as well. It can be extremely time consuming to log in to the individual jobboards of up to a hundred companies or more to see what’s available and a challenge torequest the assignment before someone else does in such a competitive industry. ShadowShopper assists with these challenges by offering the service of sending this informationdirectly to your inbox as soon as its posted. A number of factors can determine whichassignments are available to a specific shopper at any given time, including location andother demographic requirements, shop guidelines, and rotation schedules. Depending onhow much time you plan to devote to mystery shopping, utilizing this service may or maynot be the best choice for you.It’s important to understand that new and seasoned mystery shoppers can find theinformation needed with entirely free resources, including: Volition, Market ResearchPros on XING or Facebook, Premier Shoppers, the Independent Mystery ShoppersCoalition (IMSC) and many Yahoo groups, blogs, and forums that are specific to mysteryshopping. Using these free resources, as well as the job boards and resources of thecompanies you register with, you can find a multitude of great information, includingavailable assignments, tips, articles, discussion, and networking with companies andshoppers. Market Research Pros is working to develop extensive resource lists for thecommunity, and Integrity Consultants is just one of the many companies who will assistyou with getting started and maintaining success.When getting started, it is best to register with as many legitimate companies as possible.You can find some of them listed in the directory on You can also checkthe validity of a company or find lists of member companies by visiting websites forindustry organizations, such as the International Association of Service Evaluators(IASE), National Association for Retail Marketing Services (NARMS) or the MysteryShopping Providers Association (MSPA), and of course, its always a good idea to checkthe Better Business Bureau for accredited businesses. While not every legitimatecompany is a member of one or more of these organizations, they are a good place tostart.