Online shopping is a billion dollar industry and the number of online retailers that cater to customers is staggering. Aside from a wide range of online shops to choose from, there are also many fraudulent online stores out there. Some of these sites are not even shipping a “product,” their goal is to scam people out of their money. At MyMalls, we’re all about due diligence when it comes to online shopping. Therefore, we advise all members to only use trusted websites. We are aware that it's hard to resist a great deal, but we just want customers to watch out for red flags. So, our team has compiled a list of 7 tips to help make your shopping safer!
First and foremost, team MyMalls always recommends members to listen to your inner voice. Sometimes a deal is truly too good to be true. If a website offers ridiculously high discounts, compared to others, the best course of action is do some research and try to determine if it is even official. Especially, before adding your credit card or other personal information.
Low quality photos and unprofessional looking design are huge red flags! Take it as a cue that the site cannot be trusted. The same goes for strange wording or spelling and grammar mistakes. Think about it, successful and legitimate companies spend good money on perfecting the design and copy of their site as the want to attract as many customers as possible.
Bad reviews from other customers is a dead giveaway that a website may be fraudulent. So, when in doubt, read reviews! Do keep in mind that even untrustworthy merchants can write fake reviews. So, asking google is a great way to find any complaints about the site. Simply type the company's name and "scam" into Google and see what pops up. Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms are also great sources of information. If you want to go one step further, online tools like Scam Tracker and Web of Trust rate sites by their trustworthiness, vendor reliability, privacy and child safety.
Make sure the site is encrypted with SSL if you need to share sensitive data such as credit card details or home address. The easiest way to know is by checking the URL. SSL protected sites start with https:// Check for extra words in the URL like "deals," "sales" or "super discounts," or extra characters; these are all indications the website is a scam.
Reputable sites will almost always allow you to pay with secure methods, such as credit cards, debit cards or PayPal. Just make sure they have gone through a rigorous assessment by financial institutions. Look for payment company logos (e.g. Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Maestro). Beware if the seller is requiring you to pay by money order, bitcoin, cash, wire transfer or a prepaid gift card. There is little chance of you getting your money back.
If you can't find a return or refund policy online, that’s a red flag! Try contacting the company to ask them about their policy directly, before making a purchase. We advise you to stay away if you’re not satisfied with the answer. A trustworthy retailer will tell you how and where to return a product. Fake websites, on the other hand, will either have no return/refund policies or they are difficult to find.
Trusted retailers typically use their company name or the site's domain name in their email address. So, if the contact email given is a google or yahoo email address, or if there's simply a form to fill out on the page instead of an address or phone number, that’s a red flag! If a website feels shady, look it up on GoDaddy's WHOIS tool. It will show you the site's creation date, email address and phone number associated with the account, and where the site is located.
Even if the website checks out, there's still some things you can do to ensure a pleasant shopping experience. Start by checking out the shipping rates. Look for websites with cost-saving shipment deals and free or low-cost shipping; thank us later! Another important feature to look for is shipping time. How long do you have to wait for your items? We all love free shipping, but what if your package won’t arrive for at least 2 weeks? That simply won't do!
The next thing to know about are the seller guarantees. As a general rule, the more guarantees provided, the more confident you can be in your purchase. When we talk about guarantees we mean things like: on-time delivery, returns and refund, guaranteed authenticity.
Team MyMalls has noticed that some of our members have had run ins with some of these fraudulent sites. Our advice is to take these 7 tips to heart so you can have an overall pleasant shopping and shipping experience. If you're not sure and need our help? Just let us know! Looking for more tips? Check out our blog on how to make your shipping process smoother!
Your MyMalls Team