Every day people are ordering items online from fraudulent websites. These purchases will never be delivered to their doorstep. All of these victims of online shopping scam will only realize afterwards that they have been ripped off by taking a second look at the website they ordered.
Wouldn’t it be better to know how to recognize a scam online shop before you click the ‘Order now’ button?
Here are some usefull tips for you how to identify a fake online store and avoid losing money.
1) Suspicious address.
Most fake online stores use a URL like cheapchristianlouboutinshoes.com or perfume-for-less.net.
They all have in common that they have long names and the url contains popular words for search engines. If you are using Google to find some cheap Christian Louboutin shoes, the address of the first example above would show up in the search results. These scam websites also use the names of popular brands or popular online stores in their names to make you think they are related to these companies. Some even use numbers like gap1.com to make you believe it’s a legitimate website. Please note that legitimate online stores work with short, catchy domain names or just the name of their company!
2) The website design looks cheap.
Allthough it’s not that hard to build a nice looking website today with all these templates you can download, most scam websites are pretty basic. The do not use specific characters, their logo (if they have one) looks cheap and most of them do not even have a Favicon (that is the small icon in the tab, like our little shopping cart). If they have popups, they will look very basic, like a Windows 95 design.
Most of the pictures on their websites however come from ‘real’ online stores, they even copied the logo of the real brand into the picture to make it look more reliable (their job is to get your money, not to worry about copyrights).It is very likely the address of the website will dissapear after a few months but they will use the exact same website using a different URL. All they do is change the URL of each page without changing the design or items. The old items will be redirected to the ‘new’ website and the scam starts all over again!
3) Incorrect spelling and items that make no sense.
Most of these scam companies operate from countries outside the U.S. or Europe so the owners are untouchable. Most of these scam online shops use Google Translate which shows! The results are short, unclear and gramaticcaly incorrect product descriptions. Remember that, when you were the owner of an online store, you would read every single product description just to make sure every word would be written correctly. But when English is not your mother language, you can’t notice these mistakes.
Like every other company that wants to sell their products online, these scam websites also know that they have to use popular words so you will be able to find them using a search engine like Google or Bing. Products without any picture are often named ‘Pokemon Go Shoes – no image yet’ or ‘Angree Birds T-shirt’. Some brands they use or items they offer do not make any sense at all, they are just popular words.
4) The items are very unlikely.
Visiting a suspicious online store, remember that if you are not able to order the offered item on the website of the owner of the brand, the item is probably fake or does not even excist at all. If a website offers you a IPhone10 or an Ipad with other specifications (like size) than Apple does or you can buy an exclusive Kenzo shirt in a color that Kenzo does not offer than you can be sure you will either receive a fake product or you will never recieve anything at all.
5) Unclear information about the website and refund policy.
If you feel uncertain about a website, take a look at their contact information and refund policy. If the customer service is using a hotmail address or they have no phone number or they use an international phone number, you better start looking for bargains somewhere else. If their refund policy is unclear, it contains many language errors or it is too good to be true (you do not like the item, we send you one free), you know it’s a fraud shopping website.
6) Not present on Social Media.
Retailers, especially online stores, need social media to reach their customers. Almost every legitimate online store has a Facebook, Instagram or Google+ button so you can interact with fellow shoppers or the company itself. But if you manage a fake website, the last things you want are comments or reviews about your scams.
7) Impossibly cheap prices.
We all love discounts, coupon codes and clearance but if their is a huge price difference between one online store and another, silimar websites, think twice before adding the item to your shopping cart! So the picture on the website shows the exact same product but for half price or less and you wonder how they can sell these items for such a low price. Well they can’t and they won’t! Online stores like Saks and Macy’s sell large volumes of items and they will be able to get high discounts at manufacturers so they can offer you a great bargain on items but most likely these are not new arrivals. Why would a brand like Nike allow another company to sell their latest shoes 50 percent cheaper than they offer them on their own website? ! If the price is too good to be true, investigate the website again.
8) Unusual Payment Methods.
After using the checkout button on a legitimate shopping website you are able to choose the payment method of your choice, such as Credit- or Debit Card, Paypal or Cash on Delivery. Fake websites will avoid these payment methods because they are traceable. Most scam websites use direct bank deposits or money transfer companies so there is no chance for you to reclaim your money. Never use these payment methods when ordering online from a website. And if you can pay by credit card, notice the name of the owner of the card before you pay. If you are going to pay for a cheap Louis Vuitton bag and you are going to transfer your money to Uncle Changs Takeaway, do not press the button.
Also make sure the URL of the checkout page starts with https://, if not the information you enter will not be encrypted. This means the owner of the website recieves your credit card information liked you filled in a contact form, every single detail will be visible! If the checkout page does not have at least a https URL and a Padlock icon, it is a fraudulent website.
9) Use browser plugins to identify scam online stores.
10) Search online.
There are many ways to check the reputation of a website or brand. Use Google (or any other search engine) and search for reviews of that specific website. You will find out the online store reputation and if it is a scam or not. If there is no information or when you are not able to find it, try to find out who owns the website by using whois.net. When you use Google to find out more with the information you found on whois.net, you will notice this owner has operated other scam websites in the past.