When I first published the post “The Truth About MysteryShopping in Las Vegas” in 2011, I had no idea how much interest it would spark.
The allure of getting paid to shop remains high, no doubt fueled by totally false ads about earning hundreds of dollars per shop.
Here's the deal: in Nevada, you cannot become a mystery shopper unless you have a work permit and are working for a licensed private investigator, as a regular employee—not an independent contractor—or if you're an actual private investigator. Period. All those websites that promise mystery shopping jobs right away are misleading, at best, and outright scams in many cases, like the money order cashing scam I encountered ("cash this money order and wire the funds out of the country".... yeah, no).
If you're looking for legitimate work as a mystery shopper, do your homework. Remember that old saying, “If it sounds too good to be true, it is.” And don't let high-ranking websites fool you. One of the top five returns on my recent Google search for “mystery shopping Las Vegas” was for a membership to get mystery shopping jobs online, with no mention of Nevada's laws or licensing requirements.
I wrote to QSI, a Las Vegas company that offers legitimate mystery shopping work, to see what might have changed since I wrote my post. Their Vice President, Lety Gonzalez, was kind enough to answer a few questions for me.
Q: What do you think people should know before they apply to be a mystery shopper in Las Vegas?
A: Before folks apply to be a mystery shopper in Las Vegas, they need to know that mystery shopping is a part-time job to supplement income or do for extra money. It is not something that will earn a ton of money, although there are some folks who do mystery shopping full time.
They should also know that they must apply with a licensed PI company and are required to obtain a work card from the Private Investigator’s Licensing Board (PILB). Nevada is the only state with these requirements. Shoppers are paid every two weeks and are W2 employees, NOT independent contractors.
Q. How often do you have someone apply with you who’s been duped by a mystery shopping scam before finding you?
A: I haven’t encountered too many folks personally, but I have heard that it is very common. Receiving a check without having done any work or filled out any report is one to keep an eye out for. A legitimate mystery shopping provider (company) would not pay a shopper prior to having the mystery shop completed.
Q: Is the demand for mystery shoppers growing?
A: Companies are always looking for shoppers. QSI specifically is always accepting applications. With more and more shops being conducted in Las Vegas and in Northern NV, we are always seeking shoppers to help meet rotation requirements. We always want new faces in the places we shop!
Clearly, there's some fun work available for people who can meet the requirements, but don't quit your day job just yet.
And beware of the scammers out there.
Have you ever done mystery shopping?
In August 2016, Vegas Girl celebrated its 10th anniversary. This post is a part of three-part series revisiting some of Vegas Girl's most notable stories.
Photo Courtesy of Jonathan Trumbull at flickr. Interview comments edited for clarity.