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This it NOT okay and with me having an online business myself I thought it would be useful to help you notice the signs of an illegitimate business and the warning signs to look out for when shopping online, along with some advice on shopping online and some tips for those of you who have been scammed. I am no expert in this field but the below information is a good place for you to start.
So, without further ado, lets begin with the key signs you should be looking out for before you choose to spend your money on any website:
1: Always look for a Business address and a telephone number! This is a legal requirement and if the business does not have these shown on their website then they can be in serious trouble! Bear in mind that some small businesses do work from home so it may be their home address and their mobile number advertised, but as long as both are shown and correct, this is fine! If you do not see these, be weary and feel free to contact them about it, any legitimate business shouldn't have anything to hide.
2: Check for a secure connection! If you are getting warning messages popping up at the top of the page then the website may not be secure which puts you at risk so again, be weary of this.
3: Always, always check reviews! There should be reveiws on their website, their social media, Google, TrustPilot etc. Also, always read the worst starred reviews first! Some companies have been known to ask Customers to leave reviews before they've actually received their product/service (based on their Customer Service so far), this gives them a majority of 5 star reviews but when you read the worst starred reviews you actually discover that these people never received their product/service in the first place! Scary, huh?
4: Check for a relevant email address! E.g. my business email is firstname.lastname@example.org and my overflow email (when this mailbox gets too full) goes to email@example.com - If the company has an email such as 'Davedoesdrugs@hotmail.com' then you know theres something up there! Haha!
6: Secure Payment! Ensure that their payment methods used are safe and secure! You should also be able to visit the website of their payment provider to alleviate any concerns and worries that you have.
Now that you're aware of the key signs to look out for when visiting an online shop, let's look at how to always protect yourself against scammers online:
Simply put - Always pay via Paypal or via Credit Card everytime you buy anything online (I am sure there are other providers besides Paypal, but I know for definite that Paypal protect their customers) this ensures that you are protected if you are scammed online or if problems arise.
It is also important to note that if you are ever sending money to a business for a product or service via Paypal directly and not through a website, then ALWAYS send it as 'Paying for an item or service' and NOT 'Sending to a friend or family.' The reason being, if you are scammed online then you are not always covered (if at all) by Paypal and may not get that money back if you've chosen the wrong option.
If you have already been scammed online or suspect you have been scammed online...
Firstly, contact the business in question with your concerns and secondly, contact your payment provider as soon as possible to make them aware of the situation and what has happened. It is best to act fast in these situations to get the matter resolved as quickly as posisble and to get your money back. It is also a good idea to inform Action Fraud of your concerns, to prevent it happening to anyone else, you can call them on 0300 123 2040
I hope that you have found this blog post helpful and if you have any concerns whilst visiting gemzbyemz.co.uk just drop me an email or a call and I'll be happy to reassure you :)