Mystery Shopper Tip Sheet – How to Avoid Mystery Shopping Scams

As a mystery shopper, you are encouraged to sign up with as many companies as possible to have the most opportunity to mystery shop. Sometimes it gets a bit confusing to know who you signed up with and who you did not sign up to shop for.
There are scammers who send information on line and to your mail box at your home. True criminals who are sending information to you encouraging you to:
• Cash checks they send to you, ‘shop’ a wire service like Western Union and send a portion of that money to a specific recipient, and then allow you to keep the difference as pay.
• Purchase a gift card at a particular store and send a picture of it (front & back). And then keep the card for your use as your payment.
These thieves are good. They will have a report form for you to fill out making it look legit.
Of course, after you conduct your shop the check bounces. And you are out the money you wired, plus bank charges. Or they have already ‘used’ the gift card (they had all the numbers in the picture), and you are out your money.
How do you determine who is a legitimate mystery shopping company – and who is not?

1. Make sure the company is listed with a trusted trade organization like MSPA-Americas (
2. Check out the mystery shopping providers website. Become familiar with the names of the people who work at that company. Check the site when you receive an email from someone with a different name from that company.
3. Keep a list of the mystery shopping companies you have signed up with. Record their website URL, phone number, and primary contacts. Double check when you get an assignment to see if it all matches up.
4. Join mystery shopping specific social media groups or forums where you can ask others who shop about something that doesn’t seem just right.
5. Many of these fraudulent companies are stealing the branding of legitimate mystery shopping companies. Look carefully after the @. In emails and URL’s. The scammers typically add a ‘s’ or another letter that helps you identify the phony company. Check carefully.
6. Always do an online search for the company if it is new to you. Make sure the site you are asked to link to and the site that appears in a search, are the same. Look for contact details, street addresses, and process pages to confirm they are the same.
7. Call or email someone different at the company to ask if the person who emailed you works there.
8. Mystery shopping companies do not mail checks until after the work is completed. Should someone send you a check you did not work for or request, assume it is not legitimate.
9. Contact your bank official or a local post office to report a fraudulent check.

Please be aware that it is not only mystery shopping companies’ thieves impersonate. Always be alert. when receiving calls, emails, or letters from realtors, home improvement services, charities and more. Live by the motto – if it doesn’t feel right – it probably isn’t.
As you well know, mystery shopping is a very legitimate business, assisting thousands of company’s worldwide in measuring their customers’ experiences. We care about the welfare of the independent contractors who perform mystery shops for our mystery shopping providers. Please check our website for more information.