smart spending

How to find work as a mystery shopper

Details you will need to divulge

When applying for assignments, some would-be shoppers are surprised they are asked personal questions, which may include things like their age, credit score or dress size. "When they ask those questions, it is because they have clients that require shoppers with certain demographic characteristics," Stucker says. In other words, the company wants to make sure you fit in with their typical clientele, so as not to stand out from the regular customers. One more thing: Companies will usually request your Social Security number, which is needed for tax purposes. "Before divulging sensitive information, make sure the company is legitimate and you are on a secure Web site," Stucker says.

Steering clear of scams

There are many mystery-shopping frauds out there -- with new ones popping up every day -- so it's important to be careful when looking for assignments. Perhaps the most common scams these days involve bogus checks or money orders, which are often used in conjunction with a wire transfer transaction. "No one should ever cash a check and wire money to someone they do not know for any reason," Stucker says. "When someone asks you to cash a check and wire some of the money to them it is a scam. Always. There is no mystery shopping company that will ever ask you to do this."

You should also steer clear of companies that charge a fee to apply as a mystery shopper, or sites asking you to pay for a list of mystery shopping companies (this is information you can easily find online for free). The only expense you should ever incur as a mystery shopper is the cost of a required purchase, which the company will reimburse you for later.

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