Buying outdoor kit? How not to get caught out by scam sites

BookMyTrail works hard to carefully choose great accommodations for you to stay in. We work closely with B&Bs, Hotels, Hostels and in 2018 campsites. In this series of articles we will be proudly displaying the best accommodations on a number of different walking routes, all of which we may book you into for your walking adventure, if booked through BookMyTrail.

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Is it easy to contact the retailer? If not walk away
  5. Enter the domain into Scam Advisor, if it gets a low score think twice about ordering
  6. 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.
  7. 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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BookMyTrail is the #1 Choice for single walking holidays with our competitive price, quick booking completion and personable service. We have taken the supplement out of single supplement, meaning you pay a normal rate for your solo walking break, regardless of duration or location. Get in touch today for more information.

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