A Gucci bag for € 24,99. A new iPhone for € 399. We all know these deals are too good to be truth and the products are either fake or will never be delived. So simply do not buy it. Of course, online criminals also know this and offer products for prices which are maybe 10% below the normal retail prices. For these you can use the checks below.
A lot of fraudulent web shops use brand names (Adidas, Chanel, Apple) in combination with words like discount, cheap or even free to get visitors via search engines. Brands usually don’t like to see their products being sold via these kind of web shops. Likewise most serious web shops sell multiple brands and to not tie their livelihood to one brand.
Is the web shop clearly translated by a computer? Does it contain spelling mistakes and is the grammar not in order? These are all signs for a potential fake web shop.
Part of a professional web shop is that is has terms and conditions and a privacy statement. Although even professional web shops tend to copy these documents from other web shops to safe legal costs, it is a sign that the web shop is serious. Check what your rights are. How fast do they deliver? Do you have the right to return a product? How can you return a product? How fast do the return your money?
A good web shop knows its customers want to communicate in different ways. Check if the company states a phone number, as an email (form) and is active on social media. Call the company if in doubt or send it a request for more information via email or social email. A professional web shop usually replies within hours or a maximum of two working days depending on the medium.
Do you see “https” in front of the web shop address and is there a green “lock” visible? In this case communication between the web shop and your browser is encrypted, making the web shop a little bit safer to use. It is no guarantee the web shop is not fake as the cost of adding an SSL certificate (what you need to secure communication) is minimal (starting at € 4,99 per year).
Different names are used for trustmarks like trust seals, trust certificates and trust logo. In Europe alone there are an estimated 100 different trust marks being offered. The total number of trust logo’s worldwide is estimated to be around 300. Nearly all of them only operate locally (which is one of the reasons we launched Safe.Shop as global ecommerce trust mark). Many of these trust marks check and certify web shops using a rigorous process. Some of them can unfortunately not be considered serious. Be sure to click on the logo. Do you actually go to the web site of the trust organization and is the web shop listed by the organization?
Is the company active on social media? Not only having an account but also actively using it to promote their services and answering customer questions. What are other consumers saying on Facebook, Twitter and other social media about the web shop?
a web shop using a well-known consumer review system is usually a good sign. However, some review systems are better than others. Check if the review system adheres to the Review Certification Standards, meaning in short that the web shop cannot delete or edit reviews without proper cause.
This may not be easy if you are considering buying across the border. Every country has its own way to register companies. In the USA the Better Business Bureau is a good source. In the Netherlands you can check the Chamber of Commerce.
There are many kinds of payment methods. In general credit cards, PayPay, Alipay offer consumer protection by allowing consumers to get their money back in case the product is not delivered. Check if the web shop supports these payment methods. Never transfer money to a bank account if you have doubts about the reliability of a web shop.
With which delivery partners is the web shop working. Not all web shops list them but some have integrated a “where is my package check”. If a reliable delivery partner is named, this is usually a good sign.
Several other tools can help you identify and check the trustworthiness of a web shop like:
None of the methods listed above are 100% reliable. Fake web shops know what consumers are looking for and are getting increasingly professional. In some cases they even purchase a web shop, lower all the prices with 10% but simply stop delivery. Using scam checkers like scamadviser.com may be an interesting alternative. They use multiple methods listed above at the same time. Stil, it is an automated tool, using your own brains is still the best solution.
''We started in the Netherlands, expanded to Belgium and Germany and now also sell in China. Ecommerce is becoming global, faster than we think. A global trustmark belongs to global expansion.''- GeertJan Smits, Managing Director Flinders