How to Spot Mystery Shopping Scams? (Signs to Look Out For)

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Doing mystery shopping assignments is a decent way to earn extra cash.

However, over the past couple of years, there have been more and more mystery shopping scams popping up. But for someone like you who wants to earn from this kind of opportunity, it is important to figure out how to spot mystery shopping scams.

This article will make it very clear what to be aware of because there are some clear signs you can look for to recognize mystery shopping scams.

And if you know these signs, you can actually earn quite a decent amount from legit mystery shopping opportunities.

What is mystery shopping?

Before we talk about the signs to look out for, let’s discuss what mystery shopping is all about so you will understand why you are able to earn from it. You can earn from legit mystery shopping jobs because there are a lot of companies that want to know their customers' experience when they are buying from their stores or products.

That way, they can identify the points at which they can improve their service or product. Think of this opportunity as a research method to find out how they can better serve their customers. Companies then employ the help of mystery shopping companies to conduct this form of research activity and pay them a good amount.

And you, as a mystery shopper, will then be compensated a decent amount as well. That’s the whole business model of mystery shopping platforms. In the next section, I will discuss the amount you should expect to earn from this kind of opportunity.

How much can you earn?

It is important to note that doing mystery shopping jobs is not a way to earn a full-time income. It can be a decent way to earn extra cash, but your earnings will never compare to what you can earn from a full-time job.

That is why, before you head on to work on these opportunities, you must ensure you properly align your expectations in terms of earning potential. If you do that, then you will be able to proceed without getting disappointed.

How to spot mystery shopping scams?

Now that you know what mystery shopping is all about, we can discuss the signs you need to look for when you encounter mystery shopping opportunities. The video below explains exactly what the signs you should look for. You can also read the full details below the video.

Recommended: Check Out the Best Mystery Shopping Sites

Sign #1 – When there is payment involved

One of the most common signs of a mystery shopping scam is when there is payment involved for participating in a mystery shopping job. If a site requires you to pay for some kind of certification or training so that you can do high-paying mystery shopping jobs, then it is most likely a scam.

You see, legit mystery shopping platforms will never ask you to spend money and are always free to join. The whole point of doing mystery shopping jobs is to profit from it right away. And if you must pay to get access to these opportunities, then you will not be able to profit from them immediately.

Sign #2 – Depositing checks

Another prominent scam is when a mystery shopping site asks you to deposit a check at a bank. This kind of scam can get you in a lot of trouble. Not only that but the bank you will be depositing the check can also potentially get in trouble.

There are different variations of this scam, but the one thing that will remain the same is that you’ll have to go to a bank to deposit a check and then do something like send the money to someone or buy some gift cards. Sometimes, this opportunity will look like a legitimate offer because the scammers will use the names of real companies and even their logos.

When you receive an offer like this, you have to always check if you’ve signed up as a member of this mystery shopping platform because if you never sign up for this platform, then, of course, it’s not a legitimate opportunity.

I have seen people get in trouble with this kind of scam because the check will definitely bounce. Sometimes, the bank can also get in trouble because they have been suspected of being involved in a money scam.

This is why you must always avoid any mystery shopping offer that will ask you to do this kind of activity because as mentioned above, legit mystery shopping platforms will never do this.

Sign #3 – Sending money 

This sign is somewhat related to the first two scams, but it just looks a bit different. This scam basically goes like this. A mystery shopping platform supposedly asks you to wire or send money to a certain account to pay for administration or service fees or taxes that need to be covered.

Always remember that you should never fall for a mystery shopping job that will ask you to shell out your own money. This is the most basic rule when working on mystery shopping jobs or any online earning opportunity, for that matter.

Sign #4 – Exaggerated earning claims

Lastly, if you encounter a mystery shopping site that offers very high rewards, you always have to be wary. As explained earlier, mystery shopping opportunities are not a way to earn a full-time income, so if a site claims you can earn hundreds of dollars working as a mystery shopper, then it is most likely a scam.

Yes, some mystery shopping jobs do pay quite well, but you will never be able to earn an amount that is anywhere close to what you can earn from a full-time job. You see, mystery shopping jobs don’t require a lot of effort or time from you, so why would you be able to earn hundreds of dollars from it?

The rule of thumb for any earning opportunity is that the compensation will always be equivalent to the amount of time and effort required to complete it. If it doesn’t take a lot of effort and time to complete, then you also won’t be paid a lot of money for it.

That’s why if you encounter any mystery shopping site (or any online rewards site, for that matter) that promises to pay you hundreds of dollars for doing simple mystery shopping jobs, then they are scams that you must stay away from. These exaggerated earning claims are made to reel you in. You will never earn anywhere close to the amount they claim.

Final Thoughts

So those are the signs you always have to look out for when you encounter any mystery shopping site/platform. A good rule of thumb to follow to help you identify scams in the future is that “if it’s too good to be true, then it most likely is”.

If you keep that in mind, then you will be able to spot the legit ones from the scams. And as I’ve mentioned earlier, mystery shopping jobs can be a nice way to earn extra cash, but it is not something you should expect to earn a full-time income from.

If you are interested in legit mystery shopping platforms, I suggest you check out the best mystery shopping sites. This list will show all the best legit and free mystery shopping platforms you can join.

Now, if you want to earn a full-time, then I suggest you check out how to build an online business and earn a full-time income. This free course will teach you how to build your own online business from the ground up so you can earn good money even while you sleep.

If you have any comments, questions, or you know of any site that offers online focus groups for money that you think belong in this guide, I would love to hear from you in a comment below.

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