The purpose of bogus e-commerce websites built by con artists is to rob you of your hard-earned money, passwords, or personal information. The majority of these sites are created by fraudsters using phishing scams to trick naïve victims into visiting them. While some companies have completely original designs, many imitate them by employing recognizable logos, stolen photos, and URLs that trick users to believe the original one.
These websites typically appear secure to the naked eye. The majority of these fake websites sell expensive goods including well-known brands of apparel, jewelry, and electrical devices for a fraction of the cost. These discounts typically promise no shipping charges and next-day delivery, to make them more attractive. Here are a few factors to consider to spot scam websites.
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How To Identify Fake Shopping Websites? (10 Ways)
1: HTTP vs HTTPS
Checking for the protocol HTTPS with a padlock beside it in the URL is the quickest way to determine whether a site is secure or not. SSL encryption, that is better than HTTP encryption, is indicated by HTTPS in the address bar. Nobody within or between the website and the user can access the data when you surf websites with HTTPS encryption.
Another red flag that indicates a hoax website, is the URL that resembles an authentic retailer’s official address but is slightly different. By manually entering a retailer’s URL in the browser, you can avoid fake domains. Additionally, only click links you think are authentic & believe in your instincts. Avoid clicking unknown links you get by email, text, or direct message.
2: Uncertain Domain History
The domains of phony ecommerce websites have probably just been registered for a short while; often, they were first registered before well-known holidays and significant shopping occasions. There are a few free online resources, such as WHOIS, that you may use to determine the life of a website. Additionally, you can use Google’s free safe surfing transparency search to determine whether a website is reliable or not. Enter the URL into the search box, and Google will evaluate the website.
3: Distorted Pictures
The majority of the imagery on counterfeit websites is stolen; it is typically copied from Google or a real retailer’s website. As a result, the majority of the graphics displayed on phishing websites are of poor quality and occasionally appear pixelated.
4: Grammatical Errors
Before websites go live, legitimate businesses typically have editors who review the website copy. Online con artists may not have the time or skill to write persuasive sales material. While some copy substantial portions of content from reliable websites, many frequently make glaring grammar and spelling errors.
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5: A Poorly Designed Website
To develop e-commerce sites, scammers do not employ professional website designers. Users can create their own shops using online website building apps and some web marketplaces like Shopify in just a few easy steps.
However, scammers work quickly and don’t want to spend a long time creating the entire website because they sense that a bogus website can be taken down any moment. They frequently choose basic, affordable website themes with few features since they work best for persuading gullible customers that they are the real deal.
6: Very Cheap Pricing
The whole point of shopping celebrations like Black Friday and Singles’ Day is to score fantastic goods at steep discounts. However, if the price of an item you’re purchasing is significantly lower than what you’ve seen it selling for on other websites, you’re either being conned or the product is fake.
I Hence, make sure you research well about the pricing history of the products you wish to buy at a discount. Then, find out how much each item is selling for on other websites that are offering comparable deals. A solid rule of thumb is to take the appropriate precautions to ensure a website is genuine if it advertises prices that are at least 50% off.
7: Less Contact Information
Confirm the online seller’s physical address, support email, and phone number before making an online purchase. And, make sure all queries or doubts with the product/service are resolved. . If the website simply offers a fill-in contact form, the customer care email is a random Yahoo or Gmail account rather than a business one, or the contact information is nonexistent, you should be careful.
8: Returns Policy That Is Complex Or Nonexistent
Reputable retail companies are upfront about their return and refund procedures to make sure they abide by the laws governing consumer protection rights. On the other side, scammers frequently don’t bother giving their websites’ return policies any care. Make sure to check the refund policy of an online merchant before making a purchase. If a website has a complicated or dubious return policy, exit right away.
A shipping policy and fundamental legal disclosures including terms and conditions, privacy policies, and data collecting policies should also be included on legitimate retail websites. If you can’t find this data, the website is probably a ruse.
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9: Uncertain Payment Methods
The choice to pay with conventional and secure means, such as credit and debit cards, cash on delivery, or pay later alternatives, will always be provided by trustworthy brands. False online stores typically aim to persuade you to pay for your purchases using non-traceable, non-reversible payment methods. Bank transfers, gift cards, cryptocurrencies, and payment apps like PayPal, and Venmo are some examples of these.
10: Negative Online Presence
Since social media is one of the best platforms for promoting products and services, most legitimate businesses have some sort of social media presence. Online retailers run a significant risk of being fraudulent if they don’t actively engage on social media or if the social network icons they put on their websites don’t work. Additionally, keep an eye out for internet reviews that other people have posted about the contested website. Scammers frequently create fake reviews on their websites to make them appear more trustworthy, but if the scam is more well-established, Google or Trustpilot may be inundated with complaints from previous victims.
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The Final Word: How To Identify Fake Shopping Websites
Scammers build fake websites with the sole intent of deceiving deal-hungry customers into either providing sensitive information, purchasing nonexistent goods, or downloading harmful malware. The majority of these copycat websites aim to either steal your money or gather your personal information so they can commit identity theft or financial fraud. However, a small number of these copycat websites do occasionally deliver ordered goods—likely knockoffs. It is therefore better to spot these bogus websites utilizing the aforementioned tips and prevent yourself from falling for their cunning traps.
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