The fake online stores are horrible. They post what looks like real advertisements for real products on their social media feeds, you click the link and you find a real-looking website with the product. But, they are selling at the discount, so you buy the product and never receive it. They say it went missing in the post and it takes 3 weeks to get a refund, which never arrives. It sucks, and it is so well organized and crafted, so how are you supposed to spot them? There are a few ways, but they are not perfect.
Try Reputation Checkers
There are tools like Web Paranoid that check a series of different factors and then create a safety score. It works pretty well, but there are some reputation checkers that are just plain bad. For example, the Google transparency checker isn’t really a reputation checker, it is for developers to check their websites. Plus, reputation checkers can be fooled (even the good ones). If you are running a reputation checker, then try out a few smaller websites that you are sure are okay to see what the reputation checker says.
Look For Website Cloning
For starters, search engines like Google try to weed out website clones, so try Googling the domain name or URL to see what comes up. If there is an offer on social media or via email, then Google the company and enter the website from the Google search engine results. Don’t enter the website via social media or email links.
Google the Contact Location
Most of the good scammers are going to add real contact details and will even have redirect services that take you straight to their live chatbots. However, a common mistake is to give an address where they are not located. They often pick a real business location, but you check Google maps and their location is a post office. Or, better still, they say their address is in a block of offices, but you check out the office’s website and discover that the online store is not on their office roster and their sign is not outside.
Grammar and Spelling of Certain Things
Google doesn’t really care about grammar and spelling, which is why you can find a very popular Amazon page that is littered with spelling mistakes. Plus, clever scammers will check and double-check their website to be sure it has perfect spelling and grammar. There are only two ways to use this to your advantage. When the company copies technical details, they will literally copy and paste the information without understanding it. This can lead to faulty copy.
For example, they may say, “It has 2GB of RAM, which is 1 more ram than the leading competitor.” The other is simple copying errors. They copy over information that isn’t relevant, everything from copyright logo information to alt text from the buttons and widgets.
Review Their Social Media Presence
A scam company can have a social media presence that spans back tens of years. They can buy and rework other people’s social media accounts and then load them with bots. It is easy to create social proof these days. The big giveaway is often a slip in logic. Like how their post on their product demonstration receives 300K likes, and so does their “We offer 50% off today” post. Or, how the content of their social media changed just a few weeks ago, and before that, it was all about cats, funny posts, etc. You also get an insight into how people write when they create posts and reply to commenters, and sometimes, the things they say are enough to cause suspicion.