Today is Thanksgiving and many people have already turned their attention to the upcoming holiday shopping season that starts in earnest tomorrow. For many of us, shopping online is both more convenient and often more economical than shopping at a brick and mortar store. The problem is that scammers are quite adept at setting up phony websites to sell shoddy or even non-existent items. Many times, the scammers will make their websites appear to be those of legitimate retailers in order to trick people into trusting them and it takes little skill to make a phony website that looks just like that of a legitimate retailer that you trust.
So how can you keep from being scammed?
The first indication that you are shopping on a scammer’s website is often that the price looks to be good to be true. Most of the time, if it looks too good to be true, it probably is a scam. You also should remember that merely because a website turns up high on the first page of a browser search does not mean it is legitimate. It only means that the scammer may be adept at manipulating the search engine’s algorithms to obtain a high placement.
Scams are often perpetrated by people whose primary language is not English so be on the lookout for grammar and spelling mistakes in the website.
A good place to evaluate a website selling retail goods is http://www.resellerRatings.com where you can find reviews about particular merchants and see if they are legitimate. If they are not even listed there, they probably are a scam. It generally is a good idea when buying things online to use established companies with which you are familiar.
Finally, it can be very helpful to find out to whom the website where you are considering shopping is registered. You can go to www.whois.com/whois/ and find out who actually owns the website at which you are considering shopping and if it doesn’t match who they say they are, you should stay away from it. For instance, while a website may appear to be that of a legitimate store with which you are familiar, such as WallMart or Target, you may find by using whois that the particular website you are on is registered to someone in Nigeria which would be a good indication that it is a scam.
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