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New income opportunities in mystery shopping

shopper-resized.jpgUpdated 1-12-23. Notaries with strong punctuality habits and attention to detail can find new income opportunities in the field of mystery shopping.

Retail stores, restaurants and hotels and other businesses hire independent contractors to evaluate customer satisfaction and employee performance. A “mystery shopper” visits the business as a customer, and then provides detailed feedback on the experience, said Dan Denston, executive director of the Mystery Shopping Providers Association (MSPA). Assignments can range from a quick stop at a convenience store or dining at a restaurant to an overnight stay at a hotel.

Anyone can apply to become a mystery shopper. But the shoppers in highest demand are detail-oriented, observant, and punctual — traits that successful Notary entrepreneurs typically share, Denston said.

“A lot of people misunderstand what mystery shopping is,” Denston said. “It’s not just going shopping for a sweater or getting a free meal at a restaurant — it’s a measurement tool. If a company wants someone to show up between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m., you have to be there at that time — you can’t show up at 5 p.m. or the next day.”

Mystery shoppers typically start by registering with a provider company offering assignments in the shopper’s area. Denston strongly recommends interested applicants start with providers that are members of MSPA, as members have been vetted to ensure legitimate assignments. Notaries should stay away from any companies that ask for a fee in exchange for work — you should never have to pay anyone for mystery shopping assignments.

With that caveat, mystery shopping can be a good way for a Notary to earn extra income. Fees can range from $5 for a five-minute store purchase to $100-$200 for an evaluation that requires an overnight hotel stay, Denston said. Also, a mystery shopper has a lot of flexibility in choosing assignments that are convenient for the shopper. “You have the ability to do as little or as much as you want,” Denston said.

More information about mystery shopping is available through the MSPA website.

David Thun is the Assistant Managing Editor with the National Notary Association.


Add your comment

04 Sep 2014

Will someone email me some names and phone numbers of legitimate "Mystery Shopping" companies. Thanks

National Notary Association

05 Sep 2014

Hello, If you'd like to get in touch with companies offering mystery shopping assignments, you may wish to reach out to the MSPA at the link in the article above.


29 Sep 2015

Yeah. Um. They want my name, SS#, and birth date all just to apply. I don't think so. I don't even give my SS# to my physician.


12 Oct 2015

They need it because you are going to be reported for taxes if you make enough. You are acting as a sub contractor. There is not one company who will hire you without it.

Bonnie L Ely

25 Feb 2016

I really don't understand in one sentence he says you should never have to pay to work for mystery shops then he says to join this company that you gotta pay to join.

National Notary Association

26 Feb 2016

Hello Bonnie, thank you for reaching out. Some companies offer fraudulent "mystery shopping" assignments where the mystery shopper is expected to pay a fee to the company in order to receive jobs. In the article, Dan Denston of MSPA suggests reaching out to companies that are members of his association for mystery shopping assignments because these companies have been vetted by his association as offering legitimate assignments. A list of these companies and their contact information is available at the MSPA site: You do not have to be a paying member of MSPA in order to contact these companies, as their contact information is publicly available on the web page. I hope this helps answer your question.


16 May 2016

Hi Christen...sign up for a EIN is free..then u do not have to give your social security number

Mariea McCray

15 Nov 2020

Is this MSPA a real company, and are their site secure?


19 Dec 2022

I clicked on the link and the website is no longer active, it gave me Go Daddy ?

National Notary Association

12 Jan 2023

Hello and thank you for contacting us. We've updated the link to MSPA's website jin the article and it should work correctly now.

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