Whether you're buying items online to resell on Amazon or just for yourself, you need to know how to avoid wasting money on scammy websites. The internet is riddled with sites that offer extremely low prices but simply don't fulfill orders or deliver goods that aren't as advertised.
This blog post will guide you through the process of identifying whether an online retailer is genuine or a scam, helping you make informed decisions and safeguard your investment.
Types of Online Buying Scams
Websites can be scammy in multiple ways.
- Not delivering purchased orders
- Sending items that are not as described
- Sending items that are expired, incorrect quantity, used, refurbished or damaged
- Sending counterfeit items (This is very dangerous for Amazon sellers)
- Stealing personal information
Understand that just because a retailer fulfilled an order that doesn't mean that they aren't doing something else nefarious. We need to review all online retailers with a wholistic approach, keeping all 5 of these scams in mind.
I'd say at least half of the scam sites I find can be identified within a few seconds of viewing the page.
The rest of the methods will help with the sites that are less obvious, but follow your gut. If a site doesn't feel right, it usually isn't.
Read the customer reviews and ratings on a website like TrustPilot.com. If there are no reviews, that's concerning.
Genuine customer reviews and ratings can offer valuable insights into an online retailer's trustworthiness. Consider:
- Searching for the retailer's name along with keywords like "reviews," "scam," or "complaints."
- Browsing websites like Trustpilot, SiteJabber, or the Better Business Bureau for consumer feedback.
- Taking overly positive or negative reviews with a grain of salt and focusing on balanced, detailed feedback.
- We don't need stores to have perfect scores. Some of the largest, legitimate retailers have horrendous scores on TrustPilot. Be most concerned with a lack of reviews or a lack of any positive reviews.
This method helps answer the question of legitimacy more quickly than anything else.
Legitimate websites usually invest in a professional and visually appealing design, while scam websites may have a cheap or amateurish look.
Be on the lookout for:
- Excessive spelling and grammar mistakes
- Poor-quality images
- Inconsistent fonts and colors
- Broken links or non-functioning buttons
- Excessive pop-up ads or redirects
- Lack of customer support contact information
Sites need to pass the eye test before you provide any credit card info.
Website's Security Measures
A secure website will protect your personal and financial information.
- A padlock symbol and "https://" in the browser's address bar, indicating a secure SSL connection.
- Secure payment gateways like PayPal, Stripe, or Verified by Visa.
Although the presence of these security measures doesn't guarantee a website is legitimate, it's a good start.
Research the Domain Registration
A website's domain name and registration details can provide valuable information about its legitimacy:
- Domains age
- Look for familiar and reputable domain extensions like .com, .net, or .org.
- Use a WHOIS lookup tool to check the registration date; recently registered domains may raise suspicions.
- Check the contact information and location provided in the domain registration, ensuring it matches the website's information.
We can learn a lot about a website by the history of the domain.
Evaluate Return and Refund Policies
Legitimate retailers typically offer clear and reasonable return and refund policies. Be cautious if:
- The website does not provide any information on returns or refunds.
- The policies are overly restrictive or complicated.
- The retailer does not offer contact information for customer support.
A website with no refund policy is a red flag.
While good deals can be found online, significantly lower prices compared to other retailers may indicate a scam.
To avoid falling for fake offers:
- Research the average market price for the item(s) you're interested in.
- Be skeptical of "too good to be true" deals or limited-time offers that pressure you to buy quickly.
Don't be blinded by a great deal. It's not a great deal if the item doesn't ship or isn't what you expected.
As an online reseller, it's essential to protect yourself and your investment by identifying legitimate websites and avoiding scams. By following the steps outlined above, you can make informed decisions and build a successful online reselling business. Stay vigilant, trust your instincts, and don't hesitate to walk away from a website that raises red flags.