How to Know if an Online Business Is Legitimate

Nowadays, dealing with online businesses is completely normal. It doesn’t matter what type of specific products or services you’re looking for, there’s a good chance that you’ll find them online. However, dealing with a website that you’ve never heard of before can be tricky, especially if you’re not careful.

Whenever you’re buying something from an online company that you haven’t heard of before, it’s imperative that you find out as much as you can about them. Keep in mind that there are many con artists who set up fake online businesses in order to scam people.

Get the Contact Information

The first step that you should take in order to check out whether an online business is legitimate is to search for evidence that they actually exist. Try finding a physical location on their website. If you find a location, you should check whether it’s a registered office. Another thing that you can do is search for a phone number and call to see who answers. In case an employee answers the call ask them a few questions about the products and services they offer. If they’re a legitimate business, they should be able to answer your questions. In the event that no one answers or you get put through to an anonymous call center, there is a good chance that this online business is not legitimate.

Google It

Doing an online search of the business is one of the best ways to protect yourself from getting scammed. Simply Google the name of the business and add the word “scam” at the end of your search query. If complaints by other users start popping up you should stay away from this online company. Nevertheless, it’s important to note that sometimes you may encounter one or two bad reviews that don’t necessarily make the company illegitimate, which is why you need to keep things in perspective. If an online business truly isn’t legitimate, then you’ll see dozens of bad reviews and complaints online.

Know that if an illegitimate online business is relatively new, complaints may have yet to surface on Google. Because of this, it’s important to find other ways of checking whether it can really be trusted.

Find Out if the Business is BBB Accredited

BBB stands for Better Business Bureau, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to help consumers find businesses and charities that they can trust. If an online company has received a stamp of approval from the Better Business Bureau, you can rest assured that it is the real deal. You can check whether a business is BBB accredited by using the eLegitimate website, which lists companies, online stores, service providers, and commercial websites that have been approved by the Better Business Bureau.

Check if the Business has an SSL Certificate

If you’re buying from an online retailer, you need to make sure that they have a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate. This is the most widely deployed security protocol used today and ensures that hackers can’t intercept any sensitive information you may be sending to the retailer. You can easily check whether they have this certificate by looking for a key or padlock icon in your browser’s address bar. If this icon is present in the address bar it means that your information is secure.

Signs That an Online Business Is Fake

There are some common warning signs that indicate an online business isn’t legitimate. For example, if you notice a change in the site’s URL when you’re navigated to the payment page, there’s a good chance that it’s a scam. In fact, don’t trust any website that doesn’t conduct transactions through a trusted payment gateway.

Another common sign that an online company is fake is if features many spelling mistakes and low-quality images. This is mostly due to the fact that fraudsters create fake websites quickly and often don’t take enough time to create a good presentation that you would expect from a legitimate online business.

Adam Richards

About Adam Richards

Adam Richards is a semi-retired business professional originally from Bangor, Maine. He spent the majority of his career in sales and marketing where he rose to the marketing lead of a Fortune 1000 company. He then moved on to helping people as a career counselor that specifically helped bring families to self-sufficiency through finding them rewarding careers. He has now returned to Bangor for his retirement and spends his free time writing. This blog will be about everything he learned throughout his career. He'll write on career, workplace, education and technology issues as well as on trends, changes, and advice for the Maine job market and its employers.