Becoming a legitimate mystery shopper for a legitimate company doesn’t cost anything. Here’s how to do it:


Becoming a legitimate mystery shopper for a legitimate company doesn’t cost anything. Here’s how to do it:

Search the Internet for mystery shopping companies that are accepting applications. Legitimate companies don’t charge an application fee. Many accept applications online.

Do some homework about mystery shopping. Check libraries or bookstores for tips on how to find companies hiring mystery shoppers, as well as how to do the job effectively.

You can visit the Mystery Shopping Providers Association Web site at www.mysteryshop.org for information on how to register to be a mystery shopper with an association-member company, a database of available jobs, and additional information on the industry in general. The association also offers certification programs for a fee.

In the meantime, the FTC says consumers should be skeptical of mystery shopping promoters who:

• Advertise for mystery shoppers in a newspaper’s ‘help wanted’ section or by e-mail. While it may appear as if these companies are hiring mystery shoppers, it’s much more likely they’re pitching unnecessary — and possibly bogus — mystery shopping “services.”

• Sell “certification.” Companies that use mystery shoppers generally do not require certification.

• Guarantee a job as a mystery shopper.

• Charge a fee for access to mystery shopping opportunities.

• Sell directories of companies that provide mystery shoppers.