How to check if a webshop is safe?

Use common sense

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.

Are brand names (mis)used?

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 professional?

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.

Check the legal stuff

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?

Contact the web shop

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.

Is the web shop communication secured? 

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).

Does the web shop have a trust mark? 

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?

Check social media

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?

Visit review sites 

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.

Visit company registries

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.

Are Safe payment methods offered?

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.

Who delivers the product?

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.

Technical checks you can do

Several other tools can help you identify and check the trustworthiness of a web shop like:

  • Whois: check the name of the company and/or person who registered the web shop name (URL). The system is unfortunately also used by spammers to get contact details. As a result, a lot of web shops no longer show their name and contact details.
  • Alexa: gives you insight into the number of visitors the web shop has. The more visitors, the more likely the web shop is not a scam. It used to be free, now you have to create a free account.
  • Web archive: Allows you to check how old the web shop is. The older the web shop the better but keep in mind that thieves can also buy or just hack an old web shop.
  • Blacklistalert: This web site searches several other web sites which maintain list of notorious spammers. Being on the list is usually a bad sign.

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 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.

Subscribe for Safe.Shop

The first global ecommerce trustmark.

Subscribe here!

From Belgium to China

''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

Subscribe to our monthly newsletter with the best global online deals, reports, events & developments