The difference between a legit website & a scam

To determine whether a website is legit or not you need to lookout for the following.

Domain Name – A lot of fraudulent websites will use a domain name similar to a brand name.  These domain names might be www.nikesuperdiscounts or www.buffalocollection or www.salomonshop (these are not real sites, but examples). If a company has a trademark on their name, their website usually matches the company name.

No Contact Information – If the website does not have a contact us page, or it if does and it only offers a form to fill out, this is a strong indicator of fraud. Any company offering products or services, should have a place of business (location) as well as a phone number and email to contact them. If none of this information is available, then they likely just want your credit card info.

Check the WHOIS – Do a domain WHOIS LOOKUP to see who owns the domain. The result will tell you the registrar (company that the domain was purchased through), when it was created, when it expires as well as contact details. 

Check if the Login, Create Account, and Payment Pages are Secure – Many fake or fraudulent sites will not bother to buy an SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate. SSL certificates secure the transfer of your data when you submit sensitive information (creating an account, or submitting payment info) and cost money. A scam site, quite often, won’t bother with an SSL certificate, as the site will likely be shutdown within a couple of months after the fraud has been reported. If the website is legitimate and secure, they will have HTTPS on the URL and a lock icon.

Check the Shipping and Return Policy – If the website is selling a product over the internet, they will have a shipping and return policy listed on their site. If it is a real company, they should tell you how and where to return a defective product. If they are shipping a product, they should give you an idea how long it will take to arrive. If they have no return address and a vague shipping policy, do not shop at that website.

Check the Domain Name in Google – If you type the domain name into Google, if it is a real site, there should be links to that website from other websites. If only the domain comes up and no other search result appears for that domain name, then it is very suspicious.

Check Other People’s Reviews – Type the website’s domain name, followed by “reviews”, into a search engine. Ideally, you will discover search results for other people’s experiences in dealing with the website. If there are many negative customer reviews, then you will most likely want to avoid the site altogether.

Follow these simple guidelines to protect yourself online and create the best possible shopping experience. If the site you’re viewing feels suspicious, take a moment to research and investigate it before making a purchasing decision.

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