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How do you spot a scam website?

Robin Bowman

Robin Bowman
Nov 10, 2016

It’s the commonest complaint we receive – a dodgy website that takes your money and then doesn’t deliver.

And almost everyone who complains always says the same thing “looking back, I should have realised.”

The truth is there are often lots of clues to spot that a site is not one you should be buying from.

By the end of this guide you will be armed with 7 ways to spot a dodgy website.

If you do get scammed online, here's how to get your money back


1: Never deal with an site that won’t take credit cards or PayPal

If they want money transferred to their account, walk away.

Once you’ve transferred that money, there is very little you can do to get it back. 

So, however tempting the offer, however persuasive the sales person you may speak to, NEVER transfer directly into another bank account unless you 100% know the company is genuine. And even then we’d advise against!


2: Check the prices

If you’re looking at an item that’s a fair bit cheaper than it sells for elsewhere, ask yourself how this is possible. And this is especially so if the item is this year’s ‘must have.’

We’ve already warned about the flood of fake Nutribullets on the market, for example.

If you’re in doubt, ask the seller who the supplier is. And, if an item is genuine, you should be able to check by contacting the official distributor.


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3: Be wary of smaller traders on eBay and Amazon

If you buy through Amazon, you are reasonably well protected, but it’s as well to be cautious. 

Just because a trader is small DOES NOT mean they are dodgy. 

But it’s as well to check reviews carefully, see that they are not all recent.

Be wary if an equal number are really good and the same amount are really bad this should suggest something odd is going on.

Google the trader and see if anything that ought to set off alarm bells comes up.

Visit their company page on A Spokesman Said to find out what customers are really saying about them. 

And check the trader’s social media pages for buried negative comments.


4: Is the site you’re looking at a proper company?

See if it has a registered company number at the foot of its homepage. It’s easy to look up a few details about any company, to see who the directors are, for example, and Google the names.

The fact that a trader is a limited company offers no protection to you, and doesn’t mean they are not dodgy. 

But a company that’s been trading for a few years, that you can look up on the Companies House register, is certainly more reassuring than a trader who has popped up in the last couple of months and is operating out of a residential address, for example.


5: Be wary of a company with no contact details

Even the biggest companies these days seem to do everything to prevent us from phoning them up and speaking to a real person. 

But a small outfit should always offer a phone number, preferably a proper landline with an area code, not some generic number.

If contact is only by email, then it’s very easy for them to cut all communications just by not replying.  

Similarly, is there a proper postal address?  A PO Box alone means this is an outfit that, for whatever reason, does not want direct contact with customers.


6: Watch out for sites that offer an odd range of items that look pretty cheap AND some premium items as well

This is often true of retailers selling those fake Nutribullets mentioned above.

The cheaper, odd assortment of goods might be fine. But, ask yourself, is this a retailer that is really likely to have the distribution or sales rights to higher-end branded items?    


7: Check the URL of a site

Scammers often change the name of an online brand slightly to include a product name.

If you think you have been the victim of a dodgy online website, post your complaint on A Spokesman Said to warn others.

We hope you found this article useful; if you did, help us spread the word by sharing using the buttons at the top. 


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