Online shopping scams – how to spot them

The internet has a reputation for playing host to con-artists and scam websites, so much so that even legitimate MyBroadband and MyGaming give-aways raise the suspicions of the online community.

Among these scammers are fake retail websites, which often have goods for sale at ridiculously low prices, tempting gamers looking to score a bargain on new hardware purchases.

Landmark Computers site owner Andy van der Nest shared some advice with MyBroadband on how to spot scam sites.

“Do all links work? Do they have a landline number? Are the prices too good to be true?” These are some of the questions van der Nest recommends you ask yourself before making a purchase on an online retail site. Most scam websites will have loads of broken links and usually just a cell number with a Gmail or other free account e-mail address,” said van der Nest.

Local scam websites are even easier to spot, thanks to online services such as HelloPeter and PriceCheck.

HelloPeter is a site where customers can report their experiences with a variety of companies, including online retailers. A large amount of negative feedback on HelloPeter could serve as an indication that the retail site may be a scam.

PriceCheck is an online price aggregator which allows users to compare prices of various goods at a range of local online retailers. A site not included in PriceCheck results may not necessarily be a scam site, but the chances of it being legitimate if it is included in the results is far higher.

“Also look out for their VAT and registration numbers,” concluded van der Nest.

International sites are also easy to spot, with bad grammar and poor site design being two obvious signs that the site is a scam.

In the image of a scam website below, note the poor grammar and unprofessional looking text in the centre block. Links to images hosted on photobucket are also broken, and the site makes use of a free hotmail e-mail account for correspondence.

Scam website example
Scam website example

Hunting for the cheapest price online is always a good idea, but take care not to get scammed by a fake store. Bearing the above in mind, you should be able to avoid scam websites.

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Online shopping scams – how to spot them