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Is Secret Shopping a Scam?

Aug 21, 2007
Of all the classic work at home jobs, secret shopping, also called mystery shopping, has to be one of the most questioned. There's good reason for this - there are scams associated with it, even though secret shopping itself is often legitimate.

It's so much that secret shopping is a scam. It's that companies can sell false information about secret shopping.

Some companies offer lists that they claim is of companies looking to hire mystery shoppers. But too often the information provided is of companies aren't actually hiring individuals to do secret shopping for them. Some have their own staff who handle this while others go through services that provide shoppers for them.

That's information that can often be found for free online. There are many free lists of secret shopping companies. Paying for this information isn't necessarily wrong, as it can save you a lot of research time, but you have to pick your resources carefully. Buying the wrong list is quite simply a waste of money.

But there's one other scam associated with secret shopping. This one can be even more devious.

You get an offer to do a secret shop. You're given a check and told to go cash it at a particular location, forwarding the cash minus your fee to the company. The fee is delightfully high.

There's just one problem. The check is stolen or forged.

Care to guess who is going to be held responsible for paying the money back? Yes, you.

Fortunately, there are tons of legitimate companies out there that you can work for. Most secret shoppers who work from home contract with multiple companies and keep their eyes open for opportunities that they would be willing to do. You may shop a department store, an apartment building, a restaurant then a smaller store.

You can expect it to take time to build up to a decent level of income doing mystery shopping. You have to build up a reputation with the companies as a competent and observant shopper.

There's one final consideration when you want to be a secret shopper. There are services out there that can help you to spot the jobs sooner. These are subscription services.

They are not for all shoppers. Some people are good at landing the shops and don't need to pay for help. Others aren't so serious about secret shopping and really don't need to find regular work. But other shoppers find these quite beneficial. I wouldn't recommend signing up for one of these right away. Get yourself going as a secret shopper, then decide if you need the extra help.
About the Author
Stephanie Foster runs http://www.homewiththekids.com/ as a resource for stay at home moms. Her site offers resources to help you find legitimate secret shopping opportunities .
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