A fake eCommerce website, also often known as a phishing website, is a malicious attempt to earn money by conning honest people. We’ve all heard of the Nigerian Prince and the fake lottery before. Websites can be made with the intent of baiting you into losing your hard-earned money (or personal information). This is because of their scams to trick you and get their hands on your cash; scammers rely on your ignorance of their scam tactics.
The best way to not get scammed is to know the signs of a fake eCommerce website before you become a victim. Here are 10 ways to spot a fake eCommerce website:
The website has spelling and grammatical errors.
The website is likely a scam if it has spelling and grammatical errors. Legitimate companies will review their website content before going live. While it’s possible that new, legitimate websites may have some design problems, use your best judgment. If it looks unprofessional, it’s likely because it is.
The website offers to sell you something that seems too good to be true.
The website offers to sell you something that seems too good to be true. Scammers will make any claim they need to in order to persuade you to send them your money. Any individual or company that claims to have a special algorithm to make money is almost certainly a scam.
The website promises a big payout within a short amount of time. You can’t make large sums of money quickly without taking on large risks, and nearly all of those risks are scams. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
The website loads slowly or is hard to navigate.
A website that doesn’t load quickly may be a sign of a scam. Slow page loading could mean the website is not secure, which could lead to your personal information being stolen. Also, if it is difficult to navigate the website, there is a chance it may be a scam. Unnecessary difficulty with navigating the website may consist of hyperlinks not working properly or redirect links. It may also be difficult to find certain information on pages and the pages may be incorrectly titled.
The website asks for personal information right away.
The website is certainly a scam if it asks for personal information right away, especially if providing your personal information is the only way to access the website. For example, asking for your social security number or credit card number when all you’re doing is looking for a place to buy groceries online. These are red flags that should make you suspicious of the site and its intentions.
You can’t find the name of the company anywhere on the site or by searching for it on Google.
The company name and contact information are nowhere to be found. Legitimate websites will have the company’s name and contact information readily available on the site. If you cannot find any information about the company, this should raise a red flag. Research the WHOIS of the domain. If the domain was just registered recently, this may be a red flag.
You can’t find an address, phone number, or email address for the company.
If you can’t find a physical address, phone number, or email address for the company on its website, it is likely a scam. A legitimate business will not only want you to know how to contact them but also use that information to communicate with you. You might find an address and a phone number in the fine print at the bottom of the website. If so, check this location out on a map before buying from the site. The address should be in the same country from which the website is selling items, and it should be in an area where businesses are located.
When you email the company, it takes them a long time to respond or they don’t respond at all.
A website is likely a scam if when you email the company, it takes them a long time to respond or they don’t respond at all. If the company insists on communicating through SMS, social media, or any other third-party communication app, it is very likely to be a scam. Scammers often hide behind third-party apps like WhatsApp to avoid detection.
The emails from the company have a different email address than its website URL.
A website is likely a scam if the emails from the company have a different email address than its website URL. A legitimate business should have an email address that is connected to the domain.
For example, if you receive an email from “email@example.com” but the website shows a different domain name (e.g., www.differentwebsite.com), then it is likely a scam. The same applies to email addresses with free webmail providers (e.g., Yahoo, Gmail, and Hotmail).
It’s unclear what you’re actually purchasing, who you are paying, and what will happen when you pay for it.
A website is likely a scam if it’s unclear what you’re actually purchasing, who you are paying, and what will happen when you pay for it. No reputable company would make such vital information hard to find on its website. Also, out-of-the-ordinary payment options such as iTunes gift cards are a huge warning sign that the site is not trustworthy. Real websites don’t ask you to pay by giving someone cash or buying them a gift card at the supermarket.
The site looks very similar to another legitimate site, close enough to be an obvious copy, but not exactly the same.
One common tactic used by scammers is to create websites that have similar names to popular brands or well-known retailers. Always make sure that you’re on the correct URL before entering any sensitive data into a website form. Look at the domain name and check for misspelled words or extra words (such as “the” or “store”) that don’t belong in the domain name of the website you’re trying to reach.
The best way to not get scammed by a fake eCommerce website is to do your research before you spend any money online. Look for records of the website or seller you’re dealing with, check reviews and opinions from other shoppers, and, most importantly, be wary of offers that seem too good to be true. You can find lists of scam websites online, but the best way to protect yourself is by being proactive in your research. The more you know, the better prepared you are for browsing eCommerce sites safely.