Nowadays, con artists can make beautiful convincing sites that don’t arise any suspicions, but don’t let them fool you! Here are some tips about what you should pay your attention to in order to identify a fraudulent or fake site and not to let your money be stolen.
1. Double-check of the domain name
When you shop online and want to buy a product from a well-known brand or platform, the first thing to look at is the site’s name. Alarm bells should ring if the domain name contains misspellings (e. g. 0 instead o), references some famous brands (adidasoffers.com) or matches the brand shop link, but with a different top-level domain (adidas.net instead of adidas.com).
2. Is there a padlock?
You can find a lock on the upper left of the address bar. It means this site is secured by a TLS/SSL certificate that encrypts the data of users who visit the page, protecting from hackers. This doesn’t always mean your bank card information or other data can’t be stolen, sadly, scammers know how to forge and buy such locks, so be sure to combine checking for this sign with the other checks.
3. Check the domain age!
By looking up the domain age, a user can see how long this or that website has been existing. Fraudsters, knowing that before holidays people tend to shop online a lot, create fly-by-night pages looking like well-known existing online platforms. How to check them? For example, the server whois.domaintools.com will let you know the foundation date, IP-address, IP-location and many other data.
5. Correct spelling and grammar
Take the time to browse the site attentively. If it positions itself as British (or of any other English-speaking country), but contains a lot of spelling or grammar mistakes, or expressions that sound quite unusual, it should be a red flag. It could have well been written by a foreigner looking to make a quick profit.
A lot of typos may indicate the site was put together in a hurry. Usually legitimate companies take care of their reputation and try to write competently.
6. Contact us page
Watch out for ways to get in touch with the employees of the company and try these ways out. Was it a real person who mailed you back or you received a form email? Did anyone answer the phone?
Look up where the firm is located. The address may well be fake, so it’s a good idea to google if such a place even exists.
If the site doesn’t contain any contact information, doing business with such a company is too risky!
7. Online feedback on the site
Google “reviews for [site name]” to see what people think about it.
However, freelance services marketplaces provide services of reviewing sites for money; so don’t rely on only one enthusiastic comment, and check if all reviews look suspiciously similar – maybe they’re all made by the same person? Also a lot of reviews written at the same time should red-flag you.
8. Common sense
Bargain hunters are easy prey for online con artists. You should be cautious of offers that are too good to be true. If you have second thoughts about the website’s legitimacy, better consult your friends or family.
9. Due diligence
Are you going to buy something really expensive online? Or are you planning to purchase supplies for your business through the Net on a long-term basis? It’s worth undertaking a comprehensive check on the company not to buy non-existent or counterfeit items, or not to face other difficulties connected to unscrupulous behavior of the seller. Hire a qualified lawyer to find and analyze information about the company, including foundation date and place, amount of employees, legal proceedings, tax debt, execution proceedings, etc. This is the surest way to identify whether the site and the company are reliable.
Don't skimp on safety, reach out to lawyers to check a website or seller to save your money!
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