Online shoppers constantly see product offers that are too good to be true. Some unsuspecting shoppers who are intent on saving a buck may find out later that they have been victims of scams. If you aren’t careful, you could lose a fortune on these carefully constructed schemes.
The global counterfeit trade industry adds up to billions of dollars each year. You may order a brand name and end up with a cheap knock-off or not receive a product at all. Worse, you could have your credit card information or personal details stolen.
To avoid being scammed, make sure that you check websites carefully. Here are some red flags to watch for:
- Questionable domain name — Scammers imitate the domain names of bona fide businesses by simply adding a few extra characters while posing as the real thing. If you see a domain name of a legitimate brand with an additional word tacked on such as “sales,” “discounts,” or some other term, you might be dealing with a phony site. Another popular tactic is using the brand name before a generic domain extension, like .biz or .info.
- Poor design and grammar — Branded companies devote a lot of money to their websites, ensuring a perfect design and presentation. When you see poor-quality images and bad English, be careful.
- Huge discounts — Profit is the primary motivation in business. If you see an offer that is unreasonably cheap, you might be dealing with a fake website. If an offer seems too good to be true, check competitors’ websites to get an idea of the going price. If your offer is way below the standard, it’s probably best to abandon the website.
- Weird payment specifications — If a website asks you to pay through wire transfer, such as Western Union, alarm bells should be going off in your head. Work through websites that have secure credit or debit card payment options, because there is no way to get your money back if you send a wire.
- Poor communication options — If the contact information on the website looks strange or is missing an address or phone number, there may be a problem. Also, if the site wants you to fill out a query instead of providing contact details, you may be stepping into a danger zone.
- Bad reviews — Before buying anything online, check the website reviews. If you see nothing but complaints, look elsewhere to buy your products.
Trust your instincts when you deal with suspicious websites. If you have the gut feeling that something is wrong, it’s probably best to shop elsewhere. There are plenty of online shopping choices, so why risk dealing with shady websites that won’t deliver?