As you may or may not know In addition to running BookMyTrail I also work for well known outdoor brands Rab, and Lowe Alpine.
I have the pleasure of working with a number of great retailers, many of whom are independent, hard-working small business running a tight ship and doing their best to provide an honest service.
However, in the wild-west that is the internet, a multitude of scam websites are popping up.
A post on my facebook page, sharing the details of ‘Ski Shop’, prompted me to write an article on how you as a consumer can avoid falling foul to shelling out £££ for no physical return, in the form of a shiny new piece of outdoor kit. Despite the many merits of the internet, it’s still a wild west out there, and often these dodgy websites are tricky to distinguish from established honest e-commerce sites.
As an owner of a self-built website, I know how easy it is to get a site setup. With a few days of work, and some industry knowledge I could build a full-fledged e-commerce website, complete with full stock and availability of high priced items, discounted to make them look all-the-more appealing.
I could easily write a story on how my business has been around for two decades, and how we are a family run operation, with a shop in a made-up town somewhere you have never heard of. And that would be our charm. I could further cement the legitimacy of the site by posting a fake address, creating some fake reviews and having a fake Instagram page.
And to cover my tracks? Well, I could start by registering my new domain in a fake name, with a fake email, masking its identity using a domain protection service.
All I need them is to link it up to a PayPal account, start running some google adverts selling items at my bargain prices, undercutting real retailers, offering a slow delivery. I could easily rake in a few thousand pounds, back up the website. Shut it down before it gets investigated, register a new domain and start again.
It’s really that easy and does not require much work. Be warned.
Here are some basics to look for if ever you are unsure if a website is legitimate.
- Does it have an address? If it does, it the address pointing towards a known store registered and validated by Google? Bear In mind, in order for it to be real google actually mail a confirmation code out to retailers, they then have to enter this online to validate their authenticity. So if it’s on google, the chances are it’s a real retailer.
- Does it have social media with an active engagement? If it doesn’t its not necessarily a fraudulent site, but its certainly one to look for.
- How much stock is available? Check this by trying to add 1000 of a single item to your basket. Even the biggest online stores won’t hold this much stock.
- Is it easy to contact the retailer? If not walk away
- Enter the domain into Scam Advisor, if it gets a low score think twice about ordering
- Check with the suppliers. Each retailer is supplied with distributors and manufacturers. Call them up and see if the store is a legitimate retailer. They will know all of the retailers they supply to.
- Use your initiative, if there’s an alarm bell, then start digging to see if it’s legit
I hope this helps! Happy, and safe shopping over the Christmas period!
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