With more and more people shopping online, knowing how to avoid rogue websites has never been more important. Thankfully, the vast majority of companies that do business on the Internet do so lawfully.
But unfortunately when searching for a product or service you may stumble across a bogus website. Such websites generally operate by taking money for a product or service that they have no intention of delivering. So how can you avoid this happening to you? Below we have created a list of the things that we would check before interacting with any business online that we had not used before:
- Who are they? If they’re a UK limited company then their registration number and registered office address should be clearly displayed on their website. If it’s unclear who operates the site then you may have cause for concern.
- Can you speak to them on the phone? It may not be possible for a small business to answer the phone everytime, so an answer message shouldn’t put you off. But if nobody calls back within a reasonable time, or the phone is never answered, then that could indicate a problem.
- Do they have any reviews from past customers? Most genuine websites will be proud of their reputation and publish feedback they have received.
- Are they part of any accreditation or approval schemes? ISIS, SafeBuy and VeriSign are leading examples of such schemes. Business must apply to join them and will only be allowed to do so if they meet the schemes eligibility requirements.
- Who is processing their payments? Industry leaders include PayPoint.net, PayPal, SagePay, Nochex, and WorldPay.
This list is not exhaustive, but by checking a website against these points you should gain a better understanding of what that site is about, and hopefully avoid rogue operators.