Online business is booming. According to the e-commerce association beach, consumers spent 20,222 million euros online between April and June – and the trend is rising. However, fraud via so-called fake shops is also increasing, even on sites such as Amazon or eBay.
Electrical appliances, clothing or household products: Consumers can find everything they need online and usually even cheaper than in stores. But the supposed offer can also become a trap. At first glance, fake shops look like other online shops. Behind the bargains, however, are fraudsters who try to rip off their customers with fake offers. Instead of branded products at low prices, there are cheap plagiarisms or nothing at all. When users pay by credit card, they also risk the bank details being used or resold. But some signs help to distinguish a reputable online shop from fake sites:
Although the goods in fake shops do not always have to be extremely cheap, the prices are often too good to be true. If the offer is extremely below the usual market prices, consumers should rather keep their hands off it.
Every reputable website has an imprint, and users can easily see this. The corporate identity should be clear and conspicuous. An imprint must contain the address, an authorized representative and an e-mail address, and a reference to the commercial register with the corresponding number. Such information can be faked, but a search engine will find some hits under a real name and address. It is suspicious if there are no contact options or only an e-mail address is stored with a large provider.
Incorrect General Terms and Conditions (GTC)
The terms and conditions are often not read through completely. But if you have a bad feeling, you should deal with this. If the terms and conditions are written in bad German or are missing entirely, this is a clear indicator of a fake shop.
Dubious domain name
There is only one domain name. Therefore, fake shops often have a name previously used by another company or institution that has already closed. Sometimes they copy an existing shop and change the name minimally, for example, with a hyphen or confusing letter combinations.
Few payment options
The fake shops are often designed so that many payment options are offered at the beginning. However, in the last step of the order, there is only one option left – regular payment in advance. Paying in advance carries the risk that the fake shop will withhold the money, and there is no way to claim it back. If the account name does not match the company name or if the account is even abroad, users should better cancel the purchase.
Most seals such as TÜV Süd, Trusted Shops, BoniCert or EHI stand for safe shopping. Fake shops often use fictitious seals or use them illegally, and authenticity is difficult for consumers to recognize. If users are not forwarded to the provider when they click, this is not a good sign. You can also check whether the company is listed on the seal provider’s website.
Excellent customer reviews
Good reviews are usually a good sign. But you should be sceptical about exaggerated ratings, especially if they only exist within the shop. Users should enter the shop’s name in a search engine and look at the experiences of other consumers with the shop in independent rating portals.