There are lots of legit online stores that you will come across. However, you will also find that there are a lot of websites operated by criminals on the internet. This is why you need to be very alert when doing your shopping online.
One mistake can cost you a lot of money. In the first five months of 2019, around 90,916 crimes were reported to the Houston Police Department. A huge chunk of these crimes were cybercrimes related to online scams. Here are some red flags that you should watch out for if you don’t want to fall victim to online crimes.
Websites that Look Unprofessional
This is one of the most obvious red flags that you need to watch out for. If you come across an online store with a home page that looks disorganized, you need to stay away. Businesses that are legit invest a lot into making sure that their home pages and the rest of the website look professional.
This costs a lot of money, so someone who is running a scam will likely not invest as much. For instance, custom t-shirt printing is currently booming and is expected to reach a value of $6.9 Billion by 2027. Any legit business that prints t-shirts should therefore have a clean and professionally designed website.
To avoid getting coned online, you must only buy from professional-looking stores that have been around for a while. Apart from the overall look of the home page, or the site in general, you must also watch out for things like broken links or misspelled words/bad grammar.
Legitimate businesses invest a lot in website maintenance; therefore, you are less likely to find broken links. They also revise their content and hire competent copywriters. You may notice some smaller businesses that is just starting out have more errors while they build but these same people usually have an Etsy shop or social sharing site that you can see happy customers on.
Missing Contact Information
Credible businesses are easy to find both online and physically. If a business has no contact information, it’s a red flag.
If you purchase something and you have problems with the product or service, you need to be able to reach out to the seller to describe the problem that you are going through so they can come up with a solution for you. That’s not going to happen if you are dealing with a store that has no contact information.
Apart from having a phone number and email address, most legit businesses display their physical address as well. That way, you can be sure that you are working with a business that exists. Stay away from any business that you will not be able to contact later.
You can even take things a step further and try to reach out to a business using the contact information on their website before you commit to purchasing any of their products or services.
The Site Asks for Payment Information Early On
People who are running scams are interested in one thing only, that is to steal your money without giving you anything in return. This is why you must stay away from sites that ask for your payment information before you purchase anything.
For instance, the site can ask for your payment information as you are trying to create an account instead of waiting until you attempt to buy something. This can be a sign of trouble.
It’s also important to pay attention to your gut feeling when doing online shopping. If you find products that are priced way below the expected range, then there might be something wrong with the seller.
Another sign that you might be dealing with a problematic seller is when one claims they have a particular product in-store but then attempts to redirect you to other similar products when you attempt to purchase.
You only want to work with businesses that are honest. A business that lies about having what you need when they actually don’t, is not a good business to invest in beacuse they are more likely to take your money and run.