What is… an ICA?

Posted by on February 13, 2013 | Comments

What is an ICA?


ICA is the acronym for Independent Contractor Agreement.


You should read your ICAs carefully and thoroughly.  Every ICA is different and rarely will you see duplicated ICAs, so do not assume you know what it says. You must sign one for each company for which you work.  ICAs are legal contracts between you and the Mystery Shopping Company that issues the ICA.  Companies use this to protect themselves and their clients.  A company can remove you from their database of shoppers if you break or violate the ICA. You must sign one for each company you work for.


A common ICA clause is that you are not to reveal whom you are shopping, in the form of a confidentiality clause.  Therefore, a mistake often seen is to name both the Mystery Shopping Company and the client together, thus linking them to one another.  The idea behind the confidentiality clauses is to protect a company from having another company solicit their client’s business.


This is a difficult concept to grasp, one that leads to misunderstandings, as the companies will sometimes freely announce who their clients are, yet frown upon you doing the same thing.


An analogy could be a songwriter and his producer, where the Mystery Shopping Company is the songwriter and you are the producer.  It would be wrong for a producer to reveal the words to a new song the artist has been writing; however, the songwriter is free to disclose his work to anyone he wishes.



Do you read your ICAs?  Let us know in the comments!




For more definitions, check out The Essential Guide to Mystery Shopping’s 9 pages of useful Terms!


This helpful post was provided by IMSC Servanne.


  1. Sharon Kurtz says:

    Yes I read this info. I’m a little peon in this world, no affiliations with anyone. It takes me over 7 hours to do a mystery shop and only get paid $15 plus a meal.

    1. Sharon, nobody is “just a peon!” The fact that you take your time to do a good job is very commendable. The mystery shopping industry needs more dedicated shoppers like you!