This post became a spontaneous one around this time last week. I wrote, a couple of posts ago about the website nano5sale.com and was inundated with comments and emails about this website by both people who had fallen for the scam and those that had read the blog just in time (You can see the original post here). It was because of this that I realised if everyone knew how to do a few checks and knew what they were looking out for then hopefully over time these scams would disappear. So this is what this blog is about, website research and things to look for on a website before handing over your card details. Sitting comfortably? Then let’s begin…
Number 1 The Basics
Look out for the about us page and contact us page, both of these should provide valuable details about the company your hoping to deal with. What your looking for first is a bricks and mortar address, this is usually a good sign especially if it is a retail shop or a home residence. (More checks are needed here which are coming up). Also if they give you some background about the company this is also useful, it’s better to know our dealing with a reputable business that have been trading for a long time.
Another useful source of information on a website are the terms and conditions pages which every reputable business must show on an e-commerce website. In here you should be able to find key information regarding returns (this may have its own dedicated page) and warranties etc. What your looking for here is anything that looks unusual or which seems blatantly vague. Also look for terms such as ‘Distance Selling Regulations’ ‘The Sales Of Goods Act’ and ‘Statutory Rights’. If the site quotes any of these then that is a good sign as they are aware of the law and therefore intend to abide by them. (They have nothing to hide)
Number 2 Contact Details
What you want here are clear and consistent contact details. For me this was perhaps the biggest flaw of nano5sale. (Other than the stolen About Us page). As they had listed two separate email addresses: one being a hotmail account and the other being an man account. For me this was a big warning sign. Every legitimate business should have there business name in the email address, for example email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org Most businesses will not use a free email client such as hotmail, yahoo and gmail etc as it doesn’t give off a professional impression.
Phone numbers are always a good sign, if you have a feeling something isn’t quite right with a site, and it has a number then ring it and ask all the questions you can think of, do they have a shop, what is the warranty, returns policy etc etc. If nothing starts ringing alarm bells then this is a good sign. As with emails, they are not as good as phone numbers but still if they advertise an email then send a quick message asking to clarify any of your concerns.
Number 3 Who-Is
This is something that I do anyway and this was the key for me doing my research into nano5sale. Now this is dead easy but most people just don’t know they can do this. You can do a who is search which basically gives you access to some great information about who registered the website domain name and as such you can cross reference some details here to make sure all is kosher and helps give you that piece of mind when spending money online.
The site that I use is here at who.is All you need to do is type in the domain name that you are looking at and it will pull up all the details that were registered with that domain name. For a good example here is the search for nano5sale.com http://who.is/whois/nano5sale.com/
So from just this example we can see that number 1 the address that registered the website is set up in China, and is hosted by a Chinese company (explaining the difficulty I had trying to get hold of the host to try and get the site pulled offline). This is different from the address that they advertised on the website (more coming on this later..I promise) Number 2, the email that he used to set up the domain also looks like a fake email, and once again is different to that advertised on the website. *Alarm Bells Ringing*
Number 4 Maps
Chances are that if our buying online then the bricks and mortar store (if there is one) will be quite far away. Again this became useful with nano5sale as after doing the WhoIs search I noticed the address was different to what they listed on the website. I did a quick google maps search on both addresses and when you see what looks like an abandoned car park as the address. *Alarm Bells Ringing Louder*
To do a google maps search all you need to do is go to google, type in maps and then search for the address you want in the search bar. Now thanks to Google taking over the world and the miracle of Street view’ you can get up close and personal with these addresses. Again this is another great tool for you to check out the details that you have and see if anything doesn’t quite add up.
So using the good old example nano5sale I did a map check on 200 Mulberry Street New York, the address they put on their website, and take a look below at what is to be found.
It was after doing the above steps that I was 99% sure that nano5sale was a scam website and wrote my first post about them which can be found here.
Number 5 Payment security
This is just a quick addition that I thought of after publishing. Payment security such as the guys at Internet shopping is safe (link here.) These guys check that the payment gateway is secure and legitimate. You should look out for these badges around the website more so than Visa or MasterCard logo’s as these can be copied and inserted anywhere on a website. So look out for any security badges on a website such as the Internet shopping is safe.
I hope you find this information useful and it will give you some tools to stop you from falling for any scam websites. The quality of these dodgy websites is getting better and better, and because of this spending 5 minutes doing a bit of research cold save you a lot of time and/or money. As always if you have any comments or questions then feel free to leave them in the comments below or drop me an email, the message box is at the bottom of my blog.
Thanks for reading as always