How to Avoid Bogus Online Shop?
The expansion of the internet brought global connectivity and led to the boom of the eCommerce industry, wherein transactions are made electronically online and across distances. Shopping became convenient and more cost-effective to some extent. However, it also paved the way for online scams and other cyber crimes. One of the most common scams online is the phishing scam. The term ‘phishing’ originated from the word ‘fishing.’ It is an internet neologism that refers to the nefarious act of baiting people to disclose certain information that will lead to the unauthorized access of their financial accounts like credit card accounts and PayPal accounts. The perpetrator can then steal the funds or use the stolen account to make electronic transactions. Many bogus online shops, including some party supplies shops, use phishing techniques to bait unsuspecting victims.
The typical technique used in phishing scams is sending legitimate-looking email and forms simply to gather financial information or clues from potential victims. In most cases, the emails appear to have originated from legitimate and trustworthy websites such as PayPal, eBay or Yahoo! The scammer may also set up a legitimate-looking online shop to attract victims. In some cases, the scam is sustained for a longer period before it is discovered because the online shop may indeed sell items and the customers can receive the items they ordered not knowing that their financial data have already been compromised.
There are several things that you should consider if you want to avoid phishing scams and bogus online shops. Some are very obvious and only require common sense such as checking the URL address of the purported legitimate website. For instance, a financial transaction website like PayPal has a ‘https’ security protocol in the URL address. All phishing websites may appear as mirror images of the legitimate websites that they are trying to imitate but the URL address cannot be exactly the same. For instance many well-known DIY party supplies stores may have very different content and designs but a bogus online shop might try to imitate all aspects of a well-known online shop.
Here are some other factors to consider:
Contact or mailing address - A reputable online store also has its own warehouse and physical office located somewhere even if it is exclusively selling online. See if the website has a verifiable contact or mailing address. Most countries require online shops to publish their physical mailing address for legal purposes.
Landline telephone number - A landline phone number is more credible than a mobile phone number because it is more official and office-based. It is also more reliable to contact. A reputable online shop has at least one registered landline telephone number that can be found in the yellow pages.
Professional business email address - Not all legitimate online shops have business email addresses because some use online contact form instead but if a company has a professional business email, it is likely to be credible. Avoid online shops that have email addresses that are created for free like Gmail or Yahoo email address.
Website professional look and content - Avoid online shops that have lousy or amateurish designs and peppered with grammatical errors. Even party supplies online shops should have professional design and content.
Payment methods - Credit cards and debit cards are the standard means of payment online. Some reputable online shops offer Google Checkout or PayPal. If there are several payment options, the website is likely to be legitimate. Reputable websites that have global or large-scale operations offer various payment options to accommodate the large bulk of transactions. Any online shop such as a party supply shop that claims to be operating on a large scale but only offers PayPal as payment option is suspicious.
Age of the website - An online shop that has been operating for many years is unlikely to be bogus. However, it does not necessarily mean that new websites are automatically suspicious. It only becomes suspicious if it is claiming to have been operating for many years already but turns out to be just a few months or few days old. There are several online tools that you can use to check the age of a particular domain name. You may use http://www.seologs.com/dns/domain-check.html/ or http://www.internic.net/whois.html.
Reviews - An online store that claims to be reputable and operating for many years must at least have a dozen of reviews. If there is none or the reviews are very negative, that website is likely to be bogus. It might not be the party supply that you should trust.