Mystery Shopping, Scam Vs. Truth

With the new year, some folks will be vowing to earn some extra money. Maybe you’ve resolved to get out of debt, take a great vacation, educate the children, or retire early. One of the possibilities is secret shopping or mystery shopping. When I mention this to people, some assume it’s a scam. Some assume there’s big money in it. This is because there are so many mystery shopping scams going around that promise big money.

Secret shopping is a normal, real, part-time job, and as such it pays normal, real rates. Secret shoppers buy restaurant meals and report on the quality, service, and ambiance. We buy groceries and evaluate the customer service. There are secret shopping assignments for gas stations, vision care centers, assisted living facilities, hotels, fine dining, fast food, cell phone service, and much more.

The ones that are fake say they will send you a large check. They want you to deposit the check in your bank account and send a portion of the money to someone by Western Union. If you do it, the recipient gets your money, the check bounces, and you get bounced check fees and lose the amount you wired. It’s a scam. Red flags include the use of Western Union, wording that sounds like English as a second language, sometimes a poor second, and it involves a large sum of money.

Also fake are the ads that want you to pay them to find secret shopper jobs for you. If you register at and enter your zip code, you’ll see real secret shopper jobs near you from a variety of different companies.

If you go to and click on the link to mystery shopping, you’ll find pages and pages of companies that hire shoppers.

At you’ll interact with real shoppers who have plenty of experience. That’s a good place to ask about possible scams. The scammers are now using the names of real shopper companies in an attempt to be even more believable. Before you send or spend any money, ask on this site!


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