I still remember the day when I nearly got into a Shopping scam as I followed a link in a Phishing email I received. I haven’t realized that it is a fraudulent shopping website until I reached payment page where the webpage has No Https (or Encryption).
People losing millions to these online shopping scams, ironically just due to the lack of basic knowledge to identify a scam website.
It’s becoming harder to Identify Scam websites as Fraudsters getting smarter. But it isn’t so hard if you learn few Tips & signs to Spot scam sites.
How to Spot a Fake shopping website
1. Observe the Design of the website
- Crappy or Unprofessional Design
- Unprofessional Logo and Favicon (the small Icon in the browser tab)
- Unreasonable Popups and Errors
|A Good looking but a Fraud shopping website|
Never decide a Shopping website to be Legit just for the reason, it looks great and professional. Tweet This
2. Unpleasant domain name
Most of the Fraudulent shopping websites have suspicious domain names which look genuine but are misleading.There are certain signs to identify them.Fake shopping websites often use Long and Hyphenated domain names with popular Keywords in it. For Example Cheap-handbags.com and Best-wholesale-boots.com
They often mislead you by including the name of popular online stores or Brands in their domain name. For example Amazon023.com Denim-Jeans-Wholesale.com or something similar to that.
They also mislead you with sub domains. For example, Amazon.asd513.com, here asd513.com is the actual domain and it is not real amazon website.
3. Watch out for Traces of Cloning and mimicking
|A Fake eBay website with Identical design selling iPhone 4s. Credit: Trend Micro, 2011|
4. Short, Unclear and Grammatically incorrect Product description and specifications
Another thing where Fake shopping websites get caught is the Language and Web Content.
Cyber criminals are too lazy and they do not put much effort into Writing detailed Product description, Specifications. So they just write the same Short undetailed description for multiple products which often contain Grammatical errors.
If not, they copy-paste Product specifications and description from other shopping websites and don’t check for its correctness.
And some of the Fraud websites also list the products that don’t even exist and these websites don’t even have customer reviews.
So beware read product description and Customer reviews carefully before buying anything.
5. Impossibly-Low prices
Discounts, Cashbacks, Coupons. They are great ways save money. A company makes use of these techniques to sell their products quickly. No doubt most of these discounts and cashbacks are Genuine.
Fake shopping websites claim to sell products at extremely low prices that are impossible in Reality. They fool you by offering you Fake Discount coupons and Giftcards.
So Beware of Coupons and discounts. If a website promises to sell a product at prices that are Too good to be True, it is better not to buy there.
6. Safe payment methods
7. Look for HTTPS (IMPORTANT)
If you decided to trust and buy from that shopping website, then you finally go to Checkout page where you choose your payment method and Enter your payment information.
|Fake payment page with No HTTPS|
If not then you should leave that website without thinking further. Because this means that there is no data is not encrypted & insecure and absolutely a Fraudulent Website. No Https = No Security.
8. Use Browser plugins like WOT, Avast
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Additional Tips to Identify Online shopping scams
9. Unclear or No Contact information
|No other contact information besides a contact form – A fake website|
If you want to investigate further, you can take a look at the contact page. In my research, I found most of the Fraud websites either hide or give false contact information.
Most of Legit stores have professional email address under their own domain name like Amazon.com has email@example.com
10. Reviews, Google
Google is a great place to check the reputation of a brand. And in this case, a shopping website.
Just Google the name of the Online store paired with the term Review (For Example- Amazon.in Review) and you will have results with a myriad of opinions of people about that Shopping website.
You can get some important information from this, like:
- Whether the website is reputed and popular enough. If you find fewer reviews and opinions about that website, it probably may be new and unpopular. And obviously, whether it is legit or a scam.
- If the website is selling Good and Original products.
- How well does it respond and help you after the sale of the product, in things like Return and Refund.
11. Make a Whois lookup
Well, for further research, you can check the Whois information, which is the information about domain owner.
To check whois information of a website go to any whois lookup tool like Icann whois search, Who.is and enter the Website address. Now you can see the Registrar name, Registered and Expiration data, Contact information etc.,
Now pay attention to following things:
- Check if the Domain is registered in the name of the company rather than a person.
- See if the company establishment year matches with domain registration year.
- See if the domain is Old enough to trust
- Check if the Physical contact address matches with that mentioned on the website.
12. Unclear Policies and Terms of service
How to Avoid Online Shopping Scams
Stick to Reputed sites
Enter correct URL Manually
Because, Misspelling can cost you. Tweet This
Never get tempted by Low prices
As I mentioned earlier Low prices are not always good.
There are many stores that offer huge and Genuine discounts. But do not trust stores that offer discounts that are Too good to be True.
Even if they do really sell you a product for low price, there will be some fishy reason behind it, like Selling you a Refurbished/ Used product, Counterfeit or cheap version of a product.
So live in reality, never trust in impossibly low prices.
Always try to buy on well-established sites. If buying on a new site, ask your friend about his/her experience with that website.
So keep in mind the above tips to spot a fraudulent/ fake shopping website and stay safe from shopping scams.
Please post your opinions and any more tips you want to add in the comments section below, share this post with your friends on social media and help them stay safe.