E-Commerce scams are some of the costliest for consumers. These can take myriad forms. Often, such scams thrive because they lure people with great incentives. A great discount, a free product or trial are things we see as bargains. However, the only ones who truly profit are scammers.
To avoid the negative psychological and financial impact of scams, be cautious. The best way to increase your safety is to get informed. Learn more about fake online stores and how to avoid them.
A Popular Example
To understand what these scams involve, here is a good example – Pandorapick.com This is a website that mimics the famous jewelry store, Pandora. Even the name is similar to create confusion.
However, the triggers that turn customers into buyers are discounts. The website promises discounts of up to 75%. Given that it’s jewelry we’re talking about, the prices are unbelievably cheap.
Moreover, the website also copies Pandora’s design to make the resemblance even more striking. However, according to the Better Business Bureau, Pandorapick.com sells mere cheap imitations. Therefore, those who hope for a bargain actually pay for low-quality items. This website got lots of complaints on Scam Tracker.
The Bigger Danger
Besides paying for low-quality products there is, however, a bigger threat. Paying for products you never actually receive. Some fake websites work like this.
They rely on beautiful, often premium products, which are only copy-pasted photos. They promise big discounts on those items. Then, after customers make a purchase, they never deliver anything.
How to Spot a Fake Website
The best way to avoid an e-Commerce scam is to exercise caution while shopping online. To efficiently detect a fake website, there are a few aspects to consider. From discounts that are too good to be true, to website design flaws, learn to look for the red flags.
There are two types of potentially fake discounts you can spot. One example is too-steep discounts. These usually go beyond 50%. Yet, just because a company offers this type of discount, it doesn’t mean it’s illegitimate.
Sometimes online stores offer huge discounts. They might do this during certain periods of the year when sales take off. For example, before Christmas. Also, online stores often offer big discounts on items they don’t manage to sell.
The second type is too-good-to-be-true discounts on expensive items. To avoid these fake offers, do a bit of research. See how much the product costs on other websites. Usually, retailers have similar prices. If one offers an unreasonably high discount, it might be a scam.
Buying something that’s worth hundreds of dollars for only a few dozen sounds appealing. But you should also consider the risks. If you’ve never heard of that seller before, you might be dealing with a scam. There are also price comparison websites you can use to facilitate price research.
Unconventional Payment Methods
Normally, any legitimate e-store allows customers to pay with credit or debit cards. However, fake ones might ask for odd payment methods. They do this to get away with fraud easier. Bank transfers are easier to track. Therefore, if the authorities start an investigation, that’s the trace that can take them to the scammers.
However, if a customer pays in bitcoin, prepaid cards, gift cards, or cash, the transaction is harder to trace. In conclusion, avoid websites that only accept these unconventional payment methods.
Sloppy Website Design
Poor-quality photos and a sloppy overall website design might indicate a fake website. Therefore, spend a bit of time looking at the website before purchasing anything, especially on a new one.
Also, read the product descriptions and the website’s presentation. If you see lots of spelling mistakes or incorrect wording, avoid the website. Poor English and poor website design are common fake website traits.
Strange Domain Names
Clone websites often copy those of big brands. However, since they can’t use the same URL address, scammers need to be creative. They often add or eliminate letters from the website’s name. Also, they might add extra words such as sales or discounts. These red flags are easy to spot. Just pay attention to the site’s URL and compare it with the real website.
No or Limited Contact Information
Reliable companies normally have their name in the email address. They don’t use a regular email address with someone’s name for customer support. Moreover, trusted stores offer multiple contact methods, including a phone number.
If the only contact method you find on a website is an online form, be wary. Fake websites usually have shady, limited, or no contact information.
Another red flag is an international phone number for a store that claims to be in your country. To check the site and the number’s validity, call during business hours. If no one answers after multiple attempts or the number is invalid, leave the website.
Shady Refund Policies
Finally, to make sure you purchase from a legitimate online store, check its refund policy. If the website has none, something is wrong. If there are shady or unfair terms and conditions in the refund policy, avoid that website.
All in all, there are numerous red signs you should watch out for while shopping online. Get informed and stay safe!
Courtesy by Mount Equity Group