San Francisco, CA (PRWEB) November 25, 2011
Along with the holiday shopping season come all forms of scammers, rip-off artists, and overall retail ne’er-do-wells. Nowhere is this truer than cyberspace. The anonymity and easy accessibility of the World Wide Web offer scammers a golden opportunity for preying on online shoppers who are drawn to the Internet with promises of spectacular deals at jaw-droppingly low prices. While online retailers do occasionally offer deals that seem way too good to be true, such shopping coups are few and far between -- especially when offered by unestablished, rookie retailers. If you find yourself wondering how to stay safe -- and make sure the cyber Santa does indeed visit your house -- look no further than these safe shopping tips offered by BizCloud’s computing consultants.
7 Tips for Shopping Safe and Avoiding Black Friday E-commerce Scams:
If it’s too good to be true… It just might be. If you see a deal that offers gigantic discounts, the first thing to do is check whether such discounts are actually so gigantic. Many small e-commerce sites list the retail prices of items as much higher than they really are and then offer dramatic discounts that aren’t really so big after all. Search for the same products on websites like Buy.com, Walmart, Ebay, and Amazon to see how big a discount really is. If the deal holds up under more careful scrutiny, then search the website for a phone number. Give the company a call and check them out; ask for a sales manager to ensure the place isn’t a fly-by-night, one man show.
Research the company. The easiest way to check the reliability of an e-commerce website is to research its domain. (For those who don’t know, the domain is the first part of the web address that usually precedes and includes .com. For example, buy.com, ebay.com, etsy.com.) You can look into a domain’s history by typing “whois (domain)” into Google (e.g. whois etsy.com). If the whois report shows that the domain is less than a year old, has had many owners in a short period of time, or has its registrant information set as private, then you may have some cause for concern.
Do a search. Use Google, Bing, or your other favorite search engine to do a bit of reconnaissance. If a site is associated with widespread fraud, then people are probably talking about it on forums, Twitter, or other public sites. Make sure to check a few pages deep in the search results, as complaints may not always immediately surface to the front page. Also try search terms like “(merchant name) scam” and “ (merchant name) complaints.”
Read the fine print. This advice is especially true for websites such as Ebay and Etsy, where small time sellers offer products to which there’s often nothing to compare. Well done photos may make an object appear larger or in better condition than it really is. Or a “gold bracelet” may actually be gold-plated, gold-copper alloy, or some other material other than true gold. Also check if gems are real or “lab grown.” For electronics, make sure you know whether you’re buying a new or refurbished item, and watch out for scams that aren’t really selling an electronic device at all but instead something like a guide to purchasing Xboxes at wholesale prices.
Use Intermediary Payment Services. Especially for purchases at small and less established websites, consider using payment services like ClickBank, Paypal, Google Checkout, Amazon Payments, etc. These services offer buyer protection plans comparable or even better than many traditional credit and debit cards. Plus, retailers never receive any actual credit card information, so you don’t have to worry about identity theft.
Check the Better Business Bureau. The Better Business Bureau has a well-maintained site that lists complaints filed against merchants. If a merchant isn’t registered with the BBB, then that may be cause for concern. You can also check sites like consumerfraudreporting.org, fraud.org, scamwarners.com, and scamchecker.com.
Avoid clicking on ridiculous advertisements. If an advertisement promises you a free iPad or a laptop computer for $29, then it’s almost definitely not true. The website may not try to scam you, but it very well may install spyware or malware on your computer that could compromise sensitive financial information -- or, at the very least, serve up even more ridiculous pop-ups.
Don’t click on email advertisements from unknown vendors. If you receive an email from a company you’ve never shopped with, consider whether it’s worth opening at all. If you do decide to take a look, be sure not to click on any of the links inside it. It could lead to sites infected with malware. If a deal really looks good, then type the name of the vendor and its advertised product into your preferred search engine. If the deal is legitimate, you should see it on the first or second page.
If you’re in doubt about anything this holiday shopping season, use the power of social networking. If you see a great deal, post about it on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, or a favorite forum. Your friends will tell you if they smell a scam -- and if not, you’ve done both the merchant and your pals a favor.
Based in San Francisco, California, with offices in Europe and Asia, BizCloud® (http//BizCloud.net) focuses on technology and cloud innovations that assist businesses with Sales, Marketing, Operations and Engineering solutions customized to individual business needs. BizCloud® has mastered the art of integrating cloud-based services to deliver cost effective outcomes for business owners that enhance efficiency, customer satisfaction, and revenue. BizCloud® utilizes the latest breed of Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Software as a Service (SaaS) products to pass on tremendous value to clients. BizCloud is a registered trademark.