Online shopping is a great way to save money and buy products you can’t find locally. Huge numbers of fake sites exist as well as vast numbers of unscrupulous retailers. We wouldn’t discourage anyone from shopping online but we would caution you to exercise prudence before making purchases. With that in mind we’ve put together a guide to spotting a reputable retailer which should keep you safe.
A good website
Whilst web design isn’t as hard as you might think a poorly designed website is often a sure sign of something being amiss. If the site is selling products they should be clearly set out on the page with clear images and product descriptions accompanying every item. If the page looks shoddy you need to ask yourself “If this was a serious business wouldn’t they put more effort into their site?” If you were seriously trying to sell things wouldn’t you? This is a good way bring up warning flags so pay attention to your surroundings. Also look for official logos etc which although can be faked if missing should warn you that something is wrong. In addition always look for spelling mistakes and other errors as legitimate companies seldom will make mistakes particularly in their sales text.
Reputable companies should be doing everything in their power to keep you private details secure and to make sure you are safe with anything you purchase from them. In terms of onsite security you need to check that the company uses secure encryption on their payment pages. This can be seen by a padlock symbol in the address bar and/or a starting URL of https://. This guarantees that any information you enter is encrypted before being sent so it is unlikely to fall into a third party’s hands.
Check the payment options
Which methods of payment a company allow is a god indication of the security of the site and the legitimacy of the retailer as there are some payment methods which are more secure and others that are not. From a consumer’s point of view credit cards and instant pay services such as PayPal or AlertPay are the most secure and have the highest levels of protection should anything untoward happen to your details or your money. If a site or individual accepts or requests odd forms of payment such as western union or other bank transfers be extremely cautious.
Check the details
Finally with all companies checking the fine details is the best way to ensure a company’s validity. If they have an address listed on the website, check that it is real. Speak with country authorities that the company is registered to operate with them. If the company is selling discount goods, check the manufacturer’s site to see if they are an authorised distributor. Finally use the internet and the many watch dog sites to check other individual’s experiences with the company. These simple steps will soon have you spotting the fakes.
Steve writes about online shopping safety, in addition to using portals such as ShopAndEarn where you can earn rewards for items purchased online.