I love the convenience of online shopping, but there are risks in the form on fake shopping sites.
Like most of you, I have my sites I trust and from the comfort of my own sofa, I can beat the long lines and shop from home. It’s quick and easy. However, I was surprised to find out that many consumers have come across fake shopping sites that appear to be based in the United States but are really based overseas where many of the legal protections for shoppers are unenforceable.
In some cases, consumers do not receive their orders or they don’t receive products up to the standards they would expect. Shoppers have received products which were not properly made or which arrived in the wrong size. Basically, the product advertised didn’t come close to the product received. And although the site may offer a return policy, the costs to return the item are outlandish!
ConsumerAction.org offers tips to help you recognize fake shopping sites. Reviewing these tips are especially important especially since there is not a lot of recourse with some overseas companies. Consumer Action says, “Prevention is the best prescription.”
The internet is usually your friend when it comes to doing your research to find reviews on a particular shopping site. You can do a basic search by the company’s name. Many times you will find a wealth of information. Also, check with consumer sites like the Federal Trade Commission to find out if any complaints have been filed. If something appears to be too good to be true, that is probably the case! If prices are considerably lower than other well-known sites selling the same product, this could be a sign of fraud. Do your due diligence to confirm the legitimacy of the shopping site before placing an order. Many sites will have ratings and reviews from a trusted third-party. These can help you make an informed decision as well.
Privacy, Terms of Service, and Return Policies
Learn about their return policy. Most rules for returns will be under the terms and conditions section of the site. If the site is a scam, they can put just about anything under terms and conditions to make a consumer feel confident in purchasing. So make sure that you are taking other precautions as well. If you use a credit card instead of a debit card, you may be entitled to some protection should there be any issues with your purchase. The same is true with PayPal and other such providers.
These days, people can empower themselves. Several for-the-people companies provide ways to educate and protect consumers. Trust Guard, for example, provides Business Verification Seals and 4xBuyerProtection.com gives business owners the ability to offer 4 unique protective services to their clients. If you do fall victim to fake shopping sites or experience any misleading or fraudulent activity, contact the Federal Trade Commission, www.ftc.gov
Special thanks to Jeanette Pavini for some of the information found in this article.