6 Ways to Spot a Fake E-commerce Website

Every fake-spotting website you have ever read has also been read by the scammers. That is why and how so many fake websites still exist. Anti-scam websites say things like, “The scammers don’t have a good social media following,” so the scammers buy a good following. They say things like, “They don’t have a physical address,” so the scammers add them. If you really want to spot fake eCommerce websites, you need to keep your wits about you and follow the advice listed in this article.

1 – They Severely Restrict Your Payment Methods

Ideally, a scammer wants you to pay through cryptocurrency or a wire transfer. They want something that is very difficult to reverse. Buy using a credit card or PayPal, then you have layers of protection, and scammers don’t like you being protected. Plus, scammers are often blacklisted from payments processors, so if the company has very few payment options, it is a pretty big warning sign.

2 – They Are Brand New

Scammers start new websites all the time. They start them, do their damage, and then burn them. If a website is brand new, and especially if you found it through an affiliate ad or email link, then be very cautious. There is a good chance that the website plays host to some sort of scam.

3 – They Are (But Not) A Brand-Platformed Website

This one made its way onto the list because of Shopify. Scammers pretend they are running a legitimate Shopify website, but it is actually a regular website made to look like something a little more legitimate. On rare occasions, you can see things like the WordPress logo as a favicon rather than the one hosted on the Shopify website. Try to remember that most Shopify websites don’t make it obvious that they are Shopify websites, so be wary of websites that do. They may be trying to build artificial trust in their website, especially since lots of scammer-aware websites claim that Shopify websites are safer than your average eCommerce website. 

Back in the old days, you would have scammers build a copy of a website like eBay or Amazon, and people would visit, think they were buying from a legitimate source and then get scammed. Pretending to be a brand-platformed website like a Shopify website, is yet another way for scammers to worm their way into a community in order to scam other people. In many cases, these scams work to scam other Shopify users, perhaps with promises to revamp websites, build templates or develop websites.

4 – Use A Scam-Tracking Tool

There are companies working night and day to identify scams and inform people about them. Scammers are so common that scam detection is becoming big business. Companies like Web Paranoid today are like what Norton and BitDefender were back in the early days of the internet. They are the starting points for a very large emerging industry in the field of scam detection.

5 – Look For Trust-Building Exercises

Scammers love to use cheap marketing tactics, and those often include trust-building exercises. They will do and show you everything you need to trust them. Back in the old days, they had badges that said 100% money back guaranteed, or something similar. These days, they quote all the publications where they claim they have been. Unless they offer links to those publications, then do not believe their claims. For example, if they say their product was featured in Forbes and they don’t have a link to the article, then they are lying. After all, if you were published on a trusted website, wouldn’t you include the link for all the world to see?

6 – The Time Limit

Creating a “Fear of Missing Out” (FOMO) using a time limit is the oldest trick in the book. Real marketers still think that this cheap trick works, and scammers are not above trying to use FOMO. They do their best to make you think you are going to miss out if you don’t act quickly. This is because they know their scam has holes in it, so they don’t want to give you time to think or to do your research. Even if a legitimate website has time limits, you should probably shop around and treat the offer with distrust. Unless it is a long time limit, like those two-week discounts that the Playstation store offers, then pull away, do your research, have a think, and strongly consider if you are motivated by genuine desire or a fear of missing out.

Will Fastiggi
Will Fastiggi

Originally from England, Will is an Upper Primary Coordinator now living in Brazil. He is passionate about making the most of technology to enrich the education of students.

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