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Mystery shop ’til you drop? Not so fast

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Who wouldn’t love getting paid to shop and dine at cool places and then review them? Whether you’re a student looking for a summer job or someone wanting to start a side or full-time business, mystery shopping sounds like an exciting option. But while some mystery shopping opportunities are legitimate, many are scams that rob you, not pay you.

Here are a few ways to spot and avoid mystery shopping scams:

  • Search the company with the words “review,” “complaint” or “scam.”
  • Remember: Honest companies pay you to work for them, not charge you. If the company asks you to pay upfront to get the opportunity, walk away. No real job opportunity, including mystery shopping, involves paying for the job.
  • Don’t pay companies for “certifications,” directories or job “guarantees,” all of which are usually worthless. Companies asking you to pay for such things are likely scammers.
  • If you’re asked to deposit checks into your bank account and send money back to pay for courses, fees or anything else, stop. This is a fake check scam. When the check bounces, you’ll be out of the money you sent and may have to pay more to the bank.
  • Never wire money or buy gift cards for a mystery shopping assignment or any job opportunity. Those are sure signs of a scam.

If you’re looking for legitimate mystery shopping jobs, check out the Mystery Shopping Providers Association for a database of authentic companies. But if you spot any scams, report them to the FTC at and your state attorney general’s office.

Tagged with: jobs, mystery shopping, scam
Blog Topics: 
Jobs & Making Money


Thank you, so many, many crazy things going on ,trust no one .

I receive a check with a letter saying for to take $500 for myself then go to Walmart buy $100 of what ever I like to which I write a review on. Hey good but this when realize it was a scam. They say go two different Walmart at each one buy two $500 gift cards Then they give phone to text the card information too. I glad I realize it was scam. I know older people would may think this is ok Beleive me check things out I call the place to check the check out it was not real.

Happening to me right now! Got the USPS envelope yesterday, took it to a smart friend to help me decide if it was legit! We decided we would take it to their bank and cash it, it doesnt say we have to deposit it... And we have Comerica subsidiaries here. I literally was getting my self ready just to go do some "Mystery Shopping!" I cant lie, I am really bum now! But really happy I just happend to look here before I left! I just want to know.. How come someone hasnt taken this envelope to an authority and they play it out and BUST these jerks? If someone knows any thing please reply!

I was sent fake checks and took them to the local post office. No one sends around 2,000 for a mystery shopper.

I admit I fell for this not long after I was laid off. I wished I'd done my homework before falling for it. I also wished my bank had notified me an hour sooner then they did. It ended up costing me $1247. I did get about $600 back from a class action lawsuit against MoneyGram.. Now I'm skeptical about anything and everything.

I was scammed in June of this year & now, not only do I owe my bank (since 1966) $2,300, (they already got $400.00) which was my balance & money to live on for the rest of the month, power, phone, etc. but my account was shut down & I am getting calls 4 times a day. I am 74 years old & thought I was getting a part time job.

The US Administration on Aging has a call center and online directory to help older adults find help in their community. There are benefits that help pay for utilties, medication, home repair and other needs. Call 1-800-677-1116 or go to www.ElderCare.ACL.Gov.

I still have the check my scammers sent me hanging on my refrigerator to remind me not to think the best of companies, but to distrust them at first. My scammers actually gave themselves a name similar to a real company, so when I Googled them, they seemed legit. Then I got the instructions to buy gift cards at different Walmarts and I immediately knew it was a scam. I should have Googled the name PLUS the word "scam" to see what came up. I immediately reported this to the federal government, but I forgot about the state. Next time I'll follow up with them as well.

Monitor your accounts religiously! I have been "hacked"twice and cannot emphasize how important it is to be diligent about checking statements.

I just got one of these in the mail - looked odd so I started checking around.

I followed the link that they gave to be a mystery shopper but all it does is offer companies to sign up to hire them.

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