I hear from a lot of people who want to become mystery shoppers, but say they do not know how to find secret shopper companies that do not charge.
They are on the right track knowing that they should not pay to sign up with a company. Legitimate mystery shopping companies do not charge you to register.
The companies that charge may be providing a service (which you do not need) or they may just be out-and-out scams. In either case, you should never pay a fee to any company claiming to offer mystery shopper jobs.
So how can you find the legitimate mystery shopper companies that do not charge?
There are several ways. The easy way is to click on this link to my free list of 200 legitimate mystery shopper companies.
Another source of legitimate companies is the Mystery Shopping Providers Association. Companies must meet eligibility criteria, provide references and be approved by the MSPA board of directors in order to join. Companies must sign an ethics agreement which states, among other things, that member companies may not, “charge individuals to become shoppers or to gain access to shopping opportunities.”
There are legitimate companies that are not on my list or members of the MSPA. To find even more mystery shopper companies, you can do a search using your favorite search engine, such as Google, Yahoo or Bing. A few cautions when searching for companies:
Search for terms such as “mystery shopping company” or “mystery shopping companies.” Use the quotation marks in your search term to narrow the search. (With quotation marks, results will include pages that have the entire phrase contained within the quotation marks, giving you better results.)
Some of the listings that will be returned in your search are paid listings. That means the company paid to have their ad shown when someone searched for a particular term, such as “mystery shopping” or “secret shopper jobs.” Some of the ads are from legitimate mystery shopping companies, but many are not.
Beware of any ad or listing that says they are a “mystery shopper review site,” or similar language. They want to refer you to a program that charges so they can get a commission. Do not pay to join any site or company.
Legitimate mystery shopping companies ask for a lot of information on their applications, but they will not charge you and they will not ask for your credit card number. Never pay to shop.