Online shopping is more popular today than ever before. A report from the U.S. Census Bureau found that in the second quarter of 2021, an estimated $222.5 billion was spent in retail e-commerce sales.1 In 2011, for comparison, the estimated total for retail e-commerce sales was $47.5 billion.
Due in part to new and growing technology, online shopping has become incredibly easy and convenient. It also offers a greater selection than one storefront, opening the doors to products and services that may not be available at a nearby brick-and-mortar store. While online shopping comes with a number of benefits, there are drawbacks to know. Here are useful tips to help you spot scam vendors when shopping online following several analyses from experts at nz online casino.
- Check the Origin of Shipment
The location of a vendor holds immense weight in determining your chances of them scamming you. While scam vendors can operate from anywhere in the world, some countries are more likely to be a base for scam vendors than others. China, Turkey, Singapore, and Thailand are well-known havens for scam vendors. China is particularly notorious. Statista places China as the single largest origin of fake products worldwide. China accounts for 62.5% of fake products circulating globally.
Ecommerce marketplaces like Amazon and China-based Taobao and Aliexpress are prime examples of hosts for malicious Chinese vendors. Unfortunately, some vendors falsely claim to ship from places like Canada or the US in other to avoid the scrutiny of consumers. Watch out, during your transaction, for any signs that a vendor is shipping from a location different from their claim. If you spot any, proceed with extreme caution or cancel the order altogether.
However, it would be unfair—and unnecessary—to completely blacklist vendors from high-risk countries. There are still a lot of legitimate vendors shipping from these locations. Rather, commit to closer scrutiny when dealing with vendors from high-risk countries. The origin of a shipment shouldn’t be the ultimate deciding factor.
- Look Up the Vendor on Social Media
Most legitimate businesses try to maintain a considerable social media presence. If a vendor has no social media footprint, you should flag it as suspicious. Look up the vendor on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and other relevant social media platforms. Visit their pages and scroll around. Pay attention to how they engage with followers. Check out how frequently they post updates and the nature of feedback they receive.
Ideally, the vendor’s social media page should be verified. However, the majority of legitimate businesses aren’t verified. A lack of verification doesn’t necessarily imply that a business profile is malicious. The number of followers on a vendor’s page also matters. A vendor’s following can vary depending on their popularity. But legitimate businesses should typically have a considerable number of followers.
On Facebook and other social media platforms, you should be able to find out how long an account has been active. If a vendor’s page seems too recent, it’s a red flag. If it is an old account, check to see that the account wasn’t only recently repurposed as a business’ social media profile.
- Do They Have a Legitimate Website?
When dealing with unfamiliar vendors, look out for evidence that they exist outside of their listings on eCommerce platforms. A good place to start is checking if the vendor has a corporate website. A legitimate, business-savvy vendor should have one. Failure to do so is a red flag. However, having a website is not blanket proof of legitimacy. It’s easy to set up a website to back up any fraudulent business, so you’ll need to investigate further.
If the vendor has a website and sells on it as well, look closer to ensure it’s not a fake retail website. Double-check the domain name of the website. You should treat names that have been tinkered with, to look like those of popular brands, with extra scrutiny. Names akin to apple-iphones.net, cheap-versace.com, and Guccioffers.com fit this profile. Also look out for domain names ending with .tk, .ml, .ga, .cf, or .gq. Most legitimate businesses will avoid those kinds of names.
Additionally, locate the website’s “about us” page. Read around and pay attention to how original and professional it sounds. If it mentions any founder or employees, that’s a good sign. If possible, go a bit further by researching their reputation online, just like checking the reputation of best us online casino before playing games at the platform
- Does the Business Have a Physical Office?
If a vendor sells physical products like home equipment and fashion items, they should ideally have a physical office. Look up the vendor’s address on their default page, their social media handles, or their cooperate website. Make sure that all their addresses match. If you find different addresses for the same vendor, take a closer look. If you can’t find a vendor’s physical office address, try looking up the mailing address mentioned on their return policy page. If the address checks out, paste it into Google Maps to see the street view. If Google Maps pulls up a street view that shows a random residential home or a haunted-looking building, that’s a red flag.