Interested in Being a Mystery Shopper? Here Are Some Red Flags to Keep in Mind

Looking to make extra money on the side? Here is everything you need to know about becoming a mystery shopper, best companies, and scams to avoid.


Nov. 3 2022, Published 2:38 p.m. ET

Shopper in mall
Source: Photo by freestocks on Unsplash

If you love shopping and are looking for a fun side hustle, becoming a mystery shopper could be the perfect gig.

Mystery shoppers, or secret shoppers, are paid by retailers to pose as a shopper to evaluate the store's customer service experience — sometimes they get to experience fun perks like free food.

Article continues below advertisement
Article continues below advertisement

According to a recent report, mystery shopping has been around since the 1970s and is currently a $2 billion industry.

So, if you are looking to become a mystery shopper to make some extra money, here is everything you need to know, including scams to avoid.

How do you become a mystery shopper?

mystery shopper
Source: Photo by Arturo Rey on Unsplash

Most job sites like LinkedIn and ZipRecruiter have listings for mystery shoppers, so that should be your first stop. However, it is important to take the time and read what is expected as each gig will vary, and some will have specific qualifications.

Given the tasks required of a mystery shopper, the qualities of a successful mystery shopper often include being detail-oriented and organized, and at least 18 years old.

Article continues below advertisement

Employers looking for mystery shoppers include banks, restaurants, hotels, and retail stores, and there are also plenty of options to be an online mystery shopper, so you don't even have to leave your home.

How much do mystery shoppers get paid?

mystery shoppers paid
Source: Photo by on Unsplash

According to Indeed, the average salary for a mystery shopper is $20 per hour. Other mystery shopper companies pay per gig. For example, Secret Shopper pays $15 to $25 per job on average.

It is also important to remember that some mystery shopper gigs pay with free food or reimbursement for the products you purchased so be sure to read the fine print.

Article continues below advertisement
Article continues below advertisement

Best mystery shopper companies:

There are companies solely dedicated to the mystery shopping side hustle. Some of the more reputable companies to consider include:

  • Market Force — With over 100,000 mystery shops a month, Market Force is one of the largest mystery shopping companies in 2022. Mystery shoppers are needed for on-site, online, and mobile shopping tasks, and Market Force has an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau.
  • BestMark — Since 1986, BestMark has been one of the go-to companies for mystery shoppers. Qualifications for mystery shoppers on their website include good written communication skills and full internet access.
  • Intellishop — According to Intellishop, they are always looking for "detail-oriented, insightful individuals to help our clients understand and improve their brand experience."
  • Secret Shopper — The company has openings across the globe and looking for people who are reliable, articulate, and observant to join the team as shoppers. Secret Shopper is also a member of the Mystery Shopping Provider's Association (MSPA).
  • Elite CXS — With over 200,000 mystery shoppers nationwide, Elite CXS is also a solid option for beginner mystery shoppers. According to the website, mystery shoppers are expected to note details such as cleanliness and quality of service and take photographs as part of the job.
Article continues below advertisement

Be sure to avoid these mystery shopper scams!

mystery shopper scams
Source: Unsplash

As with most online job listings, there are a few red flags to keep in mind when applying for mystery shopper jobs. The Federal Trade Commission released a report and warned potential mystery shoppers about scams.

"Don’t pay to work. Honest companies pay you, not charge you, to work for them. Even if they say the money is really for certification, training, or a guaranteed job, don’t do it," the report reads before adding, "Check to see what others are saying about the company before you pursue a job with them."

Other important red flags include avoiding companies that ask you to deposit a check into your bank account and send money back or ask you to wire money as part of a mystery shopper job.

If you think you spotted a mystery shopper scam, you can report it to the FTC at Happy shopping!


Latest Jobs News and Updates

    Opt-out of personalized ads

    © Copyright 2024 Market Realist. Market Realist is a registered trademark. All Rights Reserved. People may receive compensation for some links to products and services on this website. Offers may be subject to change without notice.