If you're a regular web-surfer (silver or not - silver surfer used to describe someone of a slightly more mature age that has taken to using the internet!) then you probably recognise the convenience of being able to browse for your shopping online, order, pay for it and have it delivered, all from the comfort of your armchair. Chances are you've made a number of successful transactions, but it is so easy to become complacent, and perhaps a little over trusting, and a little click happy.
Before you commit your details to a website, here are a number of things you should consider before going ahead - consider this part of your due diligence particularly when using somebody for the first time.
- Watch out for fake sites - http://www.jacquesvertnew.com is one example which rings alarm bells compared with the official site https://www.jacques-vert.co.uk/ -> Google for the brand first, the official site will quite often list near the top of Google search results (but this is not necessarily a guaruantee of being genuine), in fact it was also sponsored (company paid for listing near the top).
- Going back to the first site or any new site for that matter, look for contact details, a telephone number, postal address, an e-mail (ideally not a free hotmail or gmail address as most 'proper' businesses would have an official one) that would typically match the website address. The 'fake' site above had none of these.
- Though no guarantee, check at the foot of the website - many companies like to let you know how long they have been in business (again, this is no guarantee), the dodgy site previously mentioned above shows copyright 2018. Though don't be put off by new companies - just check them out properly first.
- Are the prices too good to be true - if so, that's probably the case. You may be buying (if they send anything) counterfeit or poor quality goods.
- Look out for descriptions which might describe as 'in the style of Diesel' (so not Diesel but something that looks like it!) or other famous brand name. It can be argued that in such a case you haven't been misled, but rather you mis-read!
- This one, you probably wouldn't know, but you can lookup the owner details of a website, do a Google search for WHOIS, all one word - I used Whois.net to start with but that didn't give me much information, so I tried ICANN afterward and was given a lot more information - the domain in question was registered at the end of October 2017. It may or may not have been registered by the person listed however.
- Should you decide to pay, under no circumstances should you pay by bank transfer. You should only ever pay by credit card (not debit) or Paypal since both of these methods do offer the purchaser some protection should things go wrong.
- When you do begin the payment process make sure that the site is secure (you will see https instead of http in the address bar, and either a closed padlock or key icon somewhere in the same vicinity) - this still does not guarantee that the site is legitimate however since anyone can offer secure web pages - it just means that your card details cannot be intercepted by a third party - the 's' part means secure (in this case encrypted).
- Google around for this company, see if anyone else has reported them or written a review - don't forget though, reviews are easily faked.
- If in doubt do nowt!
If you've fallen victim of an online shopping scam, contact your credit card company as soon as possible to see if you can get your money back. If you believe the 'fake' site is doing damage to the original brand, why not drop an e-mail to the legitimate brand owner/site to let them know - you never know you might get a voucher for your trouble for alerting them to the issue as they may be missing out on custom by being duped by such a 'fake' site.
And finally, if all this seems a bit too much to check, why not checkout my earlier article about QuidCo (http://all-tech-plus.com/11-informational/27-earn-money-whilst-shopping-online-with-quidco) - find your shopping sites through them, any sites you click through them will be bona-fide and you'll earn some money back on your purchases as well.
p.s. - some e-mail systems such as hotmail allow you to create an alias e-mail address - you might want to use such an e-mail address (or even setup a new one) specifically for online shopping, you may then avoid junk e-mail getting to your personal inbox.
The official site - altogether more polished
If you've got something to add to this article, perhaps something you feel we've missed please do get in touch and let us know.