How can I tell if an ecommerce website is genuine?

Shopping online is very convenient, but sometimes it’s difficult to know if the website you’re visiting is legitimate. It’s natural to question whether you’ll be safe when buying from a website for the first time. So, we’ve developed this quick tips list to help you stay safe when shopping online, and hopefully avoid any scams.

Contact details

A legitimate store will have contact details on its site. If it is just a web contact form, without an address, email, and phone number you should probably be wary. All genuine online stores will be happy to help with any query you have so, if you are buying for the first time, do get in touch to see if they are real.

Customer feedback

Take a look on the website to see if there are any customer reviews about the products or the company. Also, if you are uncertain, run a search for the name of the website and the words “scam” or “fake”. You’ll quickly find out if others have had bad experiences and you should steer clear.

Whois lookup

When you run a website, you typically supply the registration details to the organizations that regulates that domain name. You can enter the website address of the online store you’re browsing at the below link for .com websites, for example. This will let you know who has registered the site. If the details match the contact details listed on the website, then chances are it is safe to buy.

https://www.whois.com/whois/

Website encryption measures

When you’re buying from a secure website you will always see the following in the address bar:

ecommerce

The padlock icon means that the site is using encrypted communications to secure any information you submit to it. The “s” in “https” also means that communications between the website and your computer or mobile are secure and encrypted. You should only buy from sites with “https” on their check-out page.

Google Safe Browsing

Google has developed a quick tool to check if the website you’re visiting is unsafe. Sometimes even legitimate sites have been comprised by hackers. You can visit the following link and enter the website you’re visiting to see if there are any issues with it:

https://www.google.com/transparencyreport/safebrowsing/diagnostic/?

Look and Feel

There are also some simple things you can do when you arrive on a website to check it’s real. The first is how professional the site looks. Is it well laid out? Are the images high-resolution? Is the language free from grammar and spelling errors? It’s down to you, but if you compare the site you’re on with one you already trust, you should be able to see if there are any differences.

With these tips, you should be able to tell whether a site is safe and genuine, or if it doesn’t look legitimate. No-one of these tips alone will guarantee a website is safe, but when combined, chances are you’re dealing with the real thing. If you have any other tips to help, please leave a comment below.