How to Check If a Website You're Looking to Buy from Is Legit or Not?
The motivation to create this infographic was all thanks to my girlfriend who recently received an Adidas t-shirt in the mail that was nothing like what she said she ordered online. Now, I would have said that she's pretty savvy when it comes to online purchases, I know this because the delivery guy is almost part of the furniture now. However, after she complained that she'd received no response to the three emails sent them asking to rectify the situation, I asked to see the website she had bought from. To my surprise, it was clearly one that would have been setting off alarm bells in my mind after spending just 30 seconds on it. Not quite sure how she thought it would be okay to buy from?
So I thought, if someone who buys clothes and other items online as regularly as my girlfriend could get duped, then there are probably many others out there that could fall into the same trap. Hence the reason for putting together the above infographic with a checklist of quick things to go through to determine whether a website is legit or not.
Besides the data security issues associated with dodgy sites, there is also a very big possibility you may end up not getting the product you are paying for either.
There are a number of easy checks you can do to confirm the validity of any online store or website. I’ve provided a 16 step checklist below, but please don't think you need to go through every single one each time you want to determine a website's legitimacy. Simply, start at step 1 and continue through the checks until you decide you do or don't feel comfortable buying form the site. Once you've used the list a few times, it'll become second nature.
One of the best recommendations for both browsing and purchasing safely online, is to start by checking the URL in your web browser. Most browsers such as Chrome, Firefox and Internet Explorer now provide a colour change on the left hand side of the URL to indicate whether the website is recognised as legitimate or not. It’s always advisable to type the URL in manually rather than follow links from email because sometimes you may be redirected to a website you didn’t intend on visiting.
Another great method to check whether a website is safe or not is to use Google Safe Browsing. What you do is copy the following “http://google.com/safebrowsing/diagnostic?site=” and paste this into your web browser, followed by the URL of the website you are wanting to check. Hit enter and Google will let you know if there has been any malware hosted on the site in the past 90 days.
A number of different plugins also exist that you can attach to your browser i.e. Google Chrome which will add icons to links that it sees as unsafe whilst you are surfing the web. If you are browsing from an Android device then there is also a host of different apps which you can use to protect yourself e.g. AVG. Sadly though, Apple customers will miss out because Apple does not allow link-checking apps to be downloaded onto its mobiles.
If you can see a copyright date on the website, for example, stating the website was created in 2010, then you can check this information by entering the URL into this website Whois.net to clearly see when the website was created and any other important details about the owner of the site or their contact details.
Unfortunately, the less vigilant shoppers amongst you may get caught out because a lot of fraudulent companies will use brand names similar to the ones they are trying to copy. All the major brands will have a series of fake websites trying to sell knock off products or not sell anything at all. Examples of these knockoff websites might be, NikeSuperDiscounts.com.au or CheapCalvinKlein.com.au.
If after doing all of your checks you still believe the site is safe but you would like to protect yourself just in case, then make the purchase with a credit card. Doing so provides you with more security compared to a debit card and it could save you hassle further down the line if the website turns out to be dodgy.