We all are smitten by online shopping. Admit it; we all are greedy for great shopping deals at some point or the other. Online shopping has revolutionized the way we shop from the comforts of our homes at the click of a button. The advantages are many- convenience, price comparisons, home delivery options and many more.
But with the increasing number of ecommerce stores, the online scams have increased too. There are a number of scammers who sell dubious products and services projecting themselves as legitimate online sellers with the help of a fake website or a fake advertisement.
Today, lets have a look at few points in identifying a fake shopping website:
Suspicious Domain Name
Simply put, domain name is the website name. example www.digital-notebook.com Most legitimate ecommerce stores use simple website names, like the name of their physical store, name of their organization, etc.
Most of the fake websites use extra characters, numbers, hyphens, popular keywords, abbreviations, etc with popular brand names to mislead people example amazon23.com, cheapfashion.com, etc
Scammers usually buy a particular domain name for shorter duration to earn a quick buck on the internet and most of these domains are bought from personal accounts. To check the authenticity of the domain, do a quick who.is search to get an idea of the domain age and other related information. If the domain is not too old, be a little cautious in buying from that particular website.
SSL certificates & HTTPs protocol
It might be a little difficult for a layman to understand, but HTTP is basically a protocol (a rule) on which internet was built but with the advent of online transactions and increase in the number of online scams, a level of security has been added to this protocol called SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) which is basically a secure version of HTTP.
How to check HTTPs site:
When you are on the payment page, look for a
a. Green color padlock icon in the address bar where you type the domain name, click on the padlock icon to check the details of security
b. Green color Padlock icon with the name of the company in green color
Design and content of the website
Every online store/ ecommerce company puts a lot of emphasis and effort on building a good user experience while designing a website. Things like user journey, imagery, grammatically correct content, product descriptions, customer reviews, etc are all taken into consideration while designing the e-store.
On the other hand, fraud websites often copy the design, product description, logos, etc of the original website in most cases but it is impossible to clone the entire website. If you come across a website which uses sloppy English, poor design, poor images, grammatical errors, no customer reviews or all 5 star customer reviews for the products or website in general, no or unclear product descriptions, etc; BEWARE! To identify a fake website, you need to have an eye of an observer. Scammers have become more intelligent now.
Social Media Icons
Most of the legitimate websites take the users to their social handles and have huge community of people across all these social sites. Do look for social media icons on the new websites from where you plan to shop.
Contact Us Page
Since, most of these fraudulent websites copy the entire look of the real websites, these sites do have a contact us page but most of such websites would not have the full physical address, official email id and phone number mentioned on their website. Most probably, they only have a contact us form. In other words, most of these websites hide the address or provide false address.
An international phone number is another sign of a scam. Most of the legitimate websites have a local call centre. If you suspect anything wrong, do try to call the number mentioned on the website.
Too good to be true offers
We all love great discounts but if you see too steep discounts on a particular website, BEWARE! It could be a scam. No one would offer you a product or service at such great discounts unless or until it is a used product. In this case, it is advisable to check other websites for such offers. The online marketplace is a competitive space. Why would only a particular website sell a Rs. 80,000 worth of a particular model of a particular product at half or 70% of the price of the product. (Something to think upon)
Sometimes, these fake websites ask you to buy a particular number of products from their website to offer free shipping.
Legitimate websites offer multiple payment options to its users ranging from Debit Cards, Net banking, Credit Cards, Wallets, Cash on Delivery, etc
If you come across a site, which only offer 1 or 2 payment options or ask you to deposit money in some bank account, money order, etc, raise a red flag there.
A lot of Trust Marks like Norton , SiteLock, VeriSign Secured, etc are now available in the market. It is an important component of a website as it brings confidence in customers that they are buying from a trusted website. Legitimate e-stores use these trusted logos on their websites and in most cases link their logos to respective websites. If you are in doubt, you can reach out to the trademark sites and check the authenticity of the website you plan to buy from.
Most fraudulent websites will not have clear refund policies mentioned on their sites or in some cases they might not even have one. If it sounds confusing enough, be alert.