Scam Website

How to Spot a Scam E-commerce Website

11th May 2021, 5:05am in Lifestyle by Shauna Mulholland

According to the ACCC Scam Watch Report, online shopping fraud cost eCommerce businesses $4.8 million in 2019.

Online fraud comes in many forms, it ranges from viruses that will attack your computer to retrieve personal information, to a fake eCommerce website that will take and store your credit card details.

We have compiled some helpful giveaways you can use to spot a scam website.

Are their prices unbelievable?

Retailers often offer pretty big discounts but they aren't likely to give their goods away. If you spot a Rolex for $100, you may think you've found a great deal. But realistically if it seems too good to be true, it usually is.

Branded goods selling for less than an outlet store price should always be viewed as suspicious.

Do they have personal data security?

Before you enter your card details into a websites checkout portal, you'll normally see a sign of reliable eCommerce data protection. This is a guaranteed way to tell if a website is legitimate.

Usually this will come in the form of a Secure Sockets Layer(SSL) encoding certificate, you can spot if a website has this by checking if a padlock appears near the websites URL.

If this isn't present during the checkout process your information may not be safe and the website could be trying to access your details for fraudulent purposes. Make sure you are not rushing through the checkout process to get the best deal and ensure you check the legitimacy of the website so that you don't get scammed!

Is the domain name legitimate?

Fake URL

An easy way to spot a fake e-commerce site is to have a look at the domain name. Many fake websites will try to use a domain name that is very similar to a well-known brand or business. For example, this could appear as '' or ''. If you see a domain that uses names with popular brand names within them, this is often a red flag and a good way to identify fake websites.

You should also watch out for sites that use domains ending in .net or .org and are selling products online. These domain names are typically used for organisations or websites giving out information and are rarely used for online shopping!

Scammers know that more people shop online during the holidays, so they put together real-looking websites very quickly to benefit from these shopping highs. You can check the age of a domain by using: whois.domaintools.

Does their website have contact information?

Before buying anything from a site that you are not confident is legitimate, take a few minutes to browse and check they have some essential details. Look for several ways to contact the company such as phone, email, physical address and try them out. Reputable businesses always include ways that customers can get in touch with them. This usually comes in the form of a 'Contact Us' page. If it doesn't, this could be a sign of a scam website. If the website only includes a form to fill out in order to contact them, this is also a warning sign.

Their T&C's are missing or unfavorable

If a business is selling legitimate products online, they will always have a returns policy of some kind for customers to use. For smaller businesses this may just be a section on their site or a form which outlines what their policy is and how you can follow it.

Returns policies show a business cares about their customer's experience and are open to help in the event of items being returned or exchanged. Returns policies can also come under the terms and conditions outlined during checkout so make sure that you check any information on your contractual rights when checking out with any online business.

Have they received online reviews?

If an ecommerce website has become popular or if it's offering amazing deals, it will have independent reviews to verify its authenticity. Reviews are one of the most important aspects in e-commerce business.

If you're about to buy products from a store you're unfamiliar with, reading online reviews is a great way to spot legitimacy. Reviews can help you identify a scam website if they have very few, very recent or very formulaic sounding testimonials.

Search for the company's name on sites like Trustpilot and Feefo to check what reviews they've received. You could also check the businesses social media accounts to see if activity is recent and consistent. This is also a great way to see if previous customers have posted negative feedback about them! Keep in mind, fake reviews are common so to spot the ones that aren't real follow these guidelines:

  • Are the reviews very similar?
  • Are most of the reviews very recent?
  • Are reviews very vague or overly specific?
  • Do they have very few reviews?

If your answer to most of these points is yes, you could be seeing fake reviews created to trick shoppers into buying from scam websites - don't fall for it!

The online shopping market is full of wonderful, affordable products that are widening consumers' access to a vast range of goods. Although there will always be online scammers out there, you can stay vigilant and keep an eye out for these red flags when online shopping.

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