The Mystery of Mystery Shopping

There are a huge number of mystery shopping scams out there, and it really isn’t a ‘work at home’ job as much as a ‘work from home’ job. And for that matter it isn’t really a job, per se, you won’t make a real salary doing it. But if shopping turns you on you might make a little extra money if you visit You’ll find a list of sites and sources there for nationally known and reputable mystery shopping companies. was recommended by Consumer Reports ShopSmart editor as a place to go to learn about legitimate opportunities and learn more about scammers.


Now don’t get your hopes up. You’re not going to get rich as a mystery shopper–if you’re lucky, you might make a bit of pocket change. More likely, you’ll earn some shopping, dining, or entertainment freebies. And PLEASSSE, don’t fall for one of the hundreds of Mystery Shopper scams that litter the Web.

Given that there actually are a few legitimate “secret shopper” companies out there it should be no surprise that there’s a trade association too*. The Mystery Shopping Providers Assocation (MSPA) is “the largest professional trade association dedicated to improving service quality using anonymous resources.” The association has 150+ members worldwide, and many are looking for people to take on short-term assignments.

The fact that these companies are always looking for new contractors should tell you something, by the way. Turn over is high because it’s really not all the fun you might think and for meager pay, too**.

*There’s actually an Association of Association Presidents, believe it or not.

**That’s a bit like the restaurant patron who observed, “The the food was awful, and such small portions too.”

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