How to Know if a Shopping Website is Legit
Online shopping is the norm in modern times. You can browse products at your favorite stores, place them in your cart, and wait for them to show up at your house!
Sometimes, advertisements for new e-commerce websites show up on social media and search results. Before visiting these e-commerce stores, you should verify their safety.
If you do not verify a website’s safety, you run the risk of losing your identity or money. You can avoid this problem with a few simple tips. Read below to learn how to know if a shopping website is legit before visiting it.
How to Check if a Shopping Website is Legit
This article will help you learn how to know if a shopping website is legit. You will find several tips below, plus a list of some of the fakest sites on the internet.
How to Tell if an Online Store Is Legit
You can find a legit site checker program and other tips in the list below. Again, these ideas will help you avoid falling victim to a scam when shopping online.
Take a Close Look at the URL
The first tip you can use to verify website authenticity is to check the URL. The part beside the “www” should read “HTTPS.” You will also see a padlock in the left corner of the address bar.
You should also determine if you are on the correct site. Look to see if the URL is the same as that of the website you want to browse. Look for any spelling mistakes and fix any errors in your search.
Sometimes, scammers spoof the URL of legit shopping websites. They place fake links on social media, advertisements, or other web addresses.
You can avoid these scammers by typing in the URL yourself. Again, double-check the URL you provided to ensure there are no spelling errors. Often, a minor typo will take you to a fake website.
Make the Sure the URL Starts with "HTTPS"
As mentioned, you should try to only shop from a website that uses “HTTPS” in its URL. These letters will appear before the “www” portion of the web address.
“Https” means that there is a secure connection between the server and the URL. The information you provide to the website will stay encrypted, protecting you from identity theft.
Users will not have their data lost from an insecure network. A hacker will have a difficult time when trying to unlock the encryption provided on the shopping website. You do not have to worry about putting your credit card or contact information online.
Click on the Lock on the Address Bar to Open the Site's Security Info
As mentioned, a site is less likely to be fake if there is a padlock in the top left corner. You can click on the icon to open a dropdown menu on your browser to learn how to know if a shopping website is legit.
When the window loads, you will see more detailed information about the connection. A message stating “The connection is secure.” is more likely to indicate a safe website.
You can also verify the SSL certification in this pop-up window. This document verifies that the web address belongs to the e-commerce website you want to browse.
Maintain caution when using this pop-up window as a fraudulent website detector. Some scammers can replicate the padlocks. Rarely do they have experience taking over the business’ webpage.
Use a Website Checker
You can use a third-party legit site checker to verify if it is safe. Go to URLvoid.com or visit the Google Transparency Report.
Either of these options uses secure data encryption, and your privacy will always stay a priority. Learn more about how to tell if an online store is legit with these tools below.
URLVoid.com is a fully online tool you can use to learn to check the reputation of a website. This software program finds malware and other threats to your computer.
You will know if a website is safe before you even visit it. You do not have to worry about someone stealing your data as soon as you press “Enter” on your keyboard.
You can learn how to use this simple tool by following the steps below.
- Go to www.urlvoid.com on your computer or mobile browser.
- Copy and paste or type the URL of the website you want to investigate.
- Wait for the tool to finish reviewing the website. They will use multiple scanners to complete the job.
- Wait for the results to appear.
- You will see a list of any malware, fraudulent activity, and other risks on the website.
Do not visit the website if URLvoid.com detects any dangerous activity.
Google Transparency Report
You can also use the Google website checker to investigate a website before you visit it. The name of this tool is the Google Transparency Report.
This tool examples millions of websites daily, constantly looking to take down dangerous websites. They search for compromised web pages and fake options.
Warnings will show up when searching a website on Google. If you use Google Chrome, you will see a notification when typing a dangerous URL.
Use the Safe Browsing Site Status webpage to manually learn how to know if a shopping website is legit with the Google Transparency Report. The required steps are below.
- Go to www.transparencyreport.google.com/safe-browsing/search?hl=en in your browser.
- Type the name of the website or copy and paste it. It goes in the “Check Site Status” field.
- Press “Enter” on your keyboard.
- Wait for Google to analyze the website’s data.
- Read the results to determine if a website is safe to visit.
Trust Your Browser with "Not Secure" Warnings
When you use the Google website checker with Google Chrome, you will automatically receive a warning about an unsafe website. Other browsers will prevent you from proceeding to a dangerous site also, including Safari and Firefox.
It is best not to go to a website if your browser blocks you from proceeding. Type the URL into one of the above tools to determine if it is legit first. If the results come back okay, you can press “Proceed Anyways.”
Look for a Trust Seal
Most safe websites come with a trust seal. This stamp comes from a certification authority that confirms the safety of a specific web page.
The trust seal indicates that you are on a safe and legit website. The certification authorities only give this stamp to URL owners who make cybersecurity a high priority.
Click on the trust seal to find out more information about it. You can quickly determine its authenticity.
Make Sure the Payment Options are Legit
You will know that a scammer owns a website if you have to provide payment information while still shopping. You should not have to enter your credit card details until you are in the checkout process.
If a website asks for your payment information upfront, they likely just want your money. You will never receive the products you think you bought.
Watch Out for Red Flag Words
There are specific red flag words you can watch out for when visiting a new website. Terms like “vintage,” “refurbished,” or “closeout” indicate that the products are secondhand.
Shopping secondhand is not a problem unless the website owner claims that the products are new. You do not want to receive poor-quality products, especially if the company does not have an effective return policy.
Review the Shop's Return Policy
You can also learn how to know if a shopping website is legit by reviewing the return policy. Most shopping websites are happy to accept your products if you are not happy with your purchase. They will give you your money back in no time.
Companies that sell low-quality products or that only steal your money will have a poor, if any, return policy. They may only accept unopened boxes or they may say no refunds. Some of these stores even give store credit back instead of money.
Find the Store's Contact Information
You can tell if a site is fake or not by reviewing the company’s contact information. You should see a physical address, phone number, and email.
You should first focus on the email address. Ensure it is not someone’s account, and make sure there is a store domain in the URL. Try to send an email to ensure it is deliverable.
Read the Reviews
One of the best ways to learn how to know if a shopping website is legit is to read the reviews. You can get more information from other potential customers than anyone else.
If you find that the reviews are mostly negative, you may want to avoid the company. You do not want to lose your money on poor-quality items.
List of Fake Online Shopping Websites
This article will provide a brief list of fake online shopping websites. The below information is not comprehensive. DO not forget about the tips above if the website you want to shop from does not seem legit.
Again, the list is not comprehensive. Put any new shopping website through a fraud checker before you purchase anything.
How Can I Verify a Company Is Legitimate?
You can learn how to know if a shopping website is legit by investigating the URL first. Make sure there are no typos in the URL and look for a padlock in the top left corner. The URL should also start with “HTTPS.”
You can also run a website through a site checker. URLvoid.com and Google Transparency Report will investigate any URL you enter. They will automatically look for fraud, malware, and any other potential dangers.
Can You Get Scammed When Online Shopping?
You can easily get scammed when purchasing something on an e-commerce site. It is best to review a list of fake online shopping websites if you found a new company.
Scammers can steal your identity after you enter your name and other contact details. They can also take your money by sending you defective products with no return allowed. You also risk never even receiving the items you purchased!
Does HTTPS Mean a Website is Safe?
An “HTTPS” in the URL means that a website is generally safe. It does not guarantee that a website is not under the ownership of a scammer, however.
Scammers can compromise websites at any time, creating a fake padlock and an “HTTPS” tag. It is best to run the website through a fraud checker before purchasing.
How Do You Check if a Company is Legally Registered in the United States?
It is best to make a purchase with a company with legal registration in the United States. You can go to the Secretary of State’s website first.
When you go to the Secretary of STate’s website, choose the state where the business is. Type the name of the company and wait for the search results to load. IF you find the business, review the certifications to determine their legality.
Check if an Online Shopping Website is Legit
You learned how to know if a shopping website is legit by reading this article! Start by looking at the URL. Check for any typos or slight mistakes, indicating that the website may be fake.
You should also determine if the website uses an “HTTPS” tag in the URL. An “HTTPS” will indicate that the site keeps your data secure. There will also be a padlock in the top left corner.
Take your security a step further by using a fraud checker like the Google Transparency Report or URLvoid.com. Provide the address of the URL and review any negative results.
Finally, you can go to the website to perform a final check. Look for a trust seal and pay attention to the payment and contact options. Read reviews on the shopping website to indicate if other customers had problems with the company.
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