Spending your hard-earned cash online is easier today than ever. You have a myriad of products and services that you can pay for using an ever-increasing number of online payment methods, which makes shopping for clothes, hardware, and basically any other product and service easy, even from half a world away. The jungle that is the world of online commerce there are quite a few predators, too, that can be hard to spot. Too many people have found themselves with their money taken, and with bogus products, replicas or even pieces of wood or brick delivered to them instead of the much-desired clothes, smartphones, and other stuff. To avoid being scammed by online merchants, it’s best to only buy from trusted sources. When this is not possible, keep these tips in mind so that you can spot a scammer early.
1. Make sure it’s secure
A great variety of online stores and services, ranging from social networks to real money casinos, have adopted the “https” protocol years ago. This adds an extra layer of security on top of what the website already offers, encrypting all communication between your web browser and the server. This makes it harder for “eavesdroppers” to lay their hands on the information exchanged, which can be important when transmitting payment information, for example.
The simple fact that it uses “https” doesn’t make a service legit but scammers usually don’t waste time and money on obtaining an SSL Certificate.
2. Look for the info
The information a service provider reveals about itself on its website is one of the indicators on how serious said service or merchant is. If all you can find on the website is an email address or – even worse – a contact form, with no information about the company or person running the business or selling the goods or services, you should be cautious.
A legitimate online merchant or service provider has no reason to hide its identity. When the goal is to be transparent and trustworthy, hiding behind the anonymity of the internet is never a good sign.
3. Other telltale signs
First and foremost, if it’s too cheap, it’s dubious. Fishy web shops like to offer designer clothes, hardware, and electronics at a ridiculously low price. In such cases, you can legitimately expect to receive a fake – or something completely different from what you ordered – when the package arrives, with no possibility to return them.
Besides, take a look at the refunds policy listed on the website. Legit web shops comply with the applicable rules and regulations, offering their customers a clear list of cases and conditions for returning their products. Fishy online shops have no such thing – even if they do list a (usually perfunctory) of cases when you can return the product and get a refund, they will go completely silent when you try to contact them about it.