Fake stores: How to protect yourself
Fake stores are a danger for every online shopper! Here are the most important tips on how to recognize fake stores. Check these features before you buy from online stores!
There are a lot of online stores selling designer and luxury brands on the Internet. But how can you distinguish which store is trustworthy and where it is a fraudulent fake store?
Here you will find a checklist with the most important tips and features that you can use to unmask fraudulent stores.
What are fake stores?
Fake stores are fraudulent online stores that give the buyer the impression that they are selling original products. However, after paying the purchase price, the stores do not deliver the ordered goods, or deliver them in inferior quality as a fake. A scam store looks to the untrained user like a real brand store. Therefore, here we explain the most important features of how to unmask a fake store.
Who is behind the fake stores?
Fake stores are often operated by criminal organizations from abroad. Experience shows that many fraudsters create the stores from China. This makes it almost impossible for injured parties to take legal action against the operators. The purchase price paid is usually lost.
How do I recognize fake stores?
You can recognize fake stores with the help of lists (so-called blacklists), which you can find here. You should also check various detection features at online stores. We describe these security features below. The more features you can find in the store, the higher the probability that it is a legitimate store.
1) Recognition feature - web address/URL
Many dubious stores have words like "sale", "outlet" or "cheap" in the web address (URL) of the website. Very often, these terms are also included in the URL in combination with the name of the trademark owner.
- Outlet (e.g. "uggsbootsoutlet.com„)
- cheap (e.g. "uggboots-cheap.org")
- sale (e.g. "uggsbootssale.com")
- Deutschlad (e.g. "ugg-deutschland.net")
Fake stores often also use web addresses (URLs) that have nothing to do with the products they sell. (e.g. under "www.handwerker-meyer.net" Nike and Adidas sporting goods are sold".
If the online store you visit shows these characteristics, then be careful
2) Distinctive feature - price
Be suspicious if in an online store the prices of branded products are significantly cheaper than in online stores you are familiar with. Of course, there are reputable web stores that offer branded goods at discount prices. However, if all branded products in a store are 30-70% below the supplier's recommended price, then it is an indication of fraudulent stores
3) Recognition feature - payment methods
Fake stores usually only offer payment methods where the scammers receive the money immediately and reversal is impossible or difficult. So be careful when exclusively one of these payment methods is offered:
- Credit card
- Western Union
So make sure to use secure payment methods:
- Instant bank transfer
Note here that not only the logo of e.g. Paypal is displayed on the store page, but that you can also select the payment method in the checkout itself.
4) Recognition feature - imprint and contact details
A reputable online store should always provide the full address of the store operator. For foreign stores, look in the "Terms & Conditions" or "About us". Here you should also find a phone number and an email address where you can reach the store. If this is missing, you should become very suspicious.
5) Distinctive feature - trust mark
Some fraudulent stores unjustifiably include trust seals on their website. If an online store advertises with security seals such as "Trusted Shop", "TÜV" or "eKomi", then check if the seal is really authorized on the store. To do this, click on the seal. You must then be redirected to the seal provider's website, where you can find more information about the online store. If the trust seal is not linked, be careful.
- Fake stores list, which you should avoid, for selected brand manufacturers.
- Tips and hints of the Consumer Center: „Rip-off online: How do I recognize fake stores on the Internet?„
- The website Crime prevention of the states and the federal government on the subject "Fake stores: Shopping with scammers„
- The website of the Police Lower Saxony on the subject "Fakeshops - no goods from fake stores„
Videos on the topic
An interesting NDR report on the topic "The counterfeiters: Billion dollar business with fakes from China". The report used practical examples to show how unsuspecting consumers fall victim to fraudsters and shop in fake stores. It gives insights into how customs work, how the fraudsters are organized and researches undercover in China.
Tips to recognize dubious online stores
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