How To Avoid Fake Online Shop Scams

Before handing over payment details to an unknown website, use these tips to see if it is genuine or not. Fake online shops are websites set up to lure you in with promises of super cheap offers – in order to rip you off.

You may never receive the goods you purchase as they likely don’t even exist or are fakes/seconds. Such scam sites pop up regularly and close just as quickly – after they have stolen your money but before too many complaints can be acted upon.

The reason this scam is so popular is that it is incredibly simple and cheap to buy a website name and create a fake online shop – even offering payment facilities via debit/credit card or Paypal is easy to do. It is important to check the following tips to see if the site is genuine or not:

Does it have a contact address?
A reputable shop will show at least 1 contact address, usually the Head Office or registered address for legal purposes – it is illegal in many countries not to display a contact address.

Does it have a contact telephone number?
A reputable shop is likely to show a contact number for customer queries.

Does it have a contact email address?
Not all reputable shops show a contact email address (they may use a contact form instead) but it is a promising sign if they have one – obviously it should be a proper email address matching the company’s name, not a free disposable hotmail or gmail address!

Does it look amateurish or full of spelling/grammar mistakes?
A reputable shop website may have an occasional spelling mistake but it is very unlikely to look as if it was thrown up in a hurry by a teenager with little grasp of the English language!

Does it offer a variety of payment methods?
Offering payment by debit/credit card is the norm. Some reputable shops will offer payment via Google Checkout or Paypal as well as but not instead of card payment.Think about whether the payment method fits what the site is selling – a hobbyist personal website selling a few handmade bracelets for $5 each can be expected to offer Paypal only but a supposedly professional website selling designer leather jackets at $500 each to a worldwide market should not!

Is it a brand new site?
A site that has been around for a few years is less likely to be a get rich quick scam. If it is a .com website you can find out when the website was created by typing in the domain name in the Domain Name search box here and clicking the Submit button. The search results displayed below your query will include the creation date of the website – if it was within the last few months you should be more concerned.

Tip: the domain name is the website name ending in .com but without the www bit e.g. if a website name is the domain name is

Is the site registered for more than 1 year?
It only costs a few dollars per year to register a website name so reputable sites often register for 10 years at a time. Scam sites often scrimp by only registering for one year – because they know they will not be around that long! You can find out the expiration date by looking in the results of your query above – if the expiration date is less than a year away you should be more concerned.

Does the site have a good rating?
In safe searching software like WOT (Web Of Trust), no rating does not mean a site is bad but bear in mind that a shopping site selling genuine bargains like Ipads for just $200 would very soon build up a good rating!

Are there any reviews of the site?
Search for online reviews or comments about the site – if they are bad (or there aren’t any) you should be more concerned.

Above all, use your common sense – does the site offer prices that are just too good to be true? If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck…