Online purchases and payments have become commonplace over the last few years. Sometimes simpler and quicker, but not without risks. Scams on certain websites are becoming more and more common, and can be costly for victims. People who are taken in by these dishonest sites sometimes lose large sums of money if they are not careful. To help you tell the difference between reliable and fraudulent sites, 60 millions of consumers magazine has published a list of warning signs in its latest issue to help you avoid being taken in by shady websites.
Excessive price reductions on items sold online
When you shop online, some products can be very attractively priced. But low prices or crazy promotions can sometimes hide a scam that will cost you more. This kind of sign should alert you to the fact that other charges may be added to the payment for your online order, such as expensive shipping costs. For the less fortunate, it sometimes happens that an online order never arrives at your home address.
Absence of the legal notices section
Under French law, a website is required to display a legal notice on its page. This is an important detail that reveals the identity of the professional offering online sales, as well as the company’s registration number. The company name is also specified, as well as the legal form or VAT identification number, if applicable. Contact details for the service provider, such as the business address or email address, are normally given in the legal notice. Often located at the bottom of the page, this information will help you to easily identify the reliability of the site you are visiting. If you are not completely convinced, there are reliable sites such as Whois.com that can reveal information about the owner of the site in question.
A low level of security on the site
There’s another thing that can alert you to a dodgy site. There is a small symbol that can attest to a website’s good level of security. This little pictogram is usually located at the beginning of the site’s address bar. If you’re still not reassured, you can use Google Safe Browsing, a free online service that lets you check the security level of the site you’ve visited.
Lack of information in general terms and conditions of sale
It is not uncommon to come across information about general terms and conditions of sale (GTCs) on an online sales site. These give the consumer a description of the product sold online, the guarantees and delivery terms and other details such as the conditions relating to the right of withdrawal. If you don’t find this element on the site where you wish to make your purchases, you will need to be extra vigilant. The absence of this element is often proof that the site is malicious.
Several spelling mistakes and poor layout
The design of the site must be examined with a fine-tooth comb to ensure that the site consulted is reliable. Details such as spelling mistakes in the text or poor quality layout and photos often indicate a lack of seriousness on the part of the seller. These clues often reveal that the site in question is in fact offering dishonest deals.
Negative comments from Internet users
If you’re worried about being scammed, don’t hesitate to read what other people have to say about this site. People who have already been scammed will generally leave bad reviews in the comments to warn potential victims. To be on the safe side, you can test the website you want to buy from. Several sites such as trustpilot.com allow you to see whether the website in question has already been reported by other users.