Shop Safely Online: How to Spot Nefarious Retailers or Websites on the Internet


Since the internet was first discovered, retailers have joined by the millions to market their goods in the online market. For consumers, shopping online can save an incredible amount of time and effort, especially when purchasing gifts for others. Not to mention the added convenience of shopping from the comfort of their home, where literally just about anything, including guns, can be purchased online.

As with any industry however there are the bad eggs in the bunch. Not every retailer is out to make money online the honest way. As such, consumers should be discerning before making any purchase online. If you want to learn how to shop safely online or how to investigate the trustworthiness of a site, then keep reading.

Appearance and Design

Generally speaking the quality of a websites design says a lot about a retailers online reputation. Does it appear to be updated regularly? Or are articles or other areas outdated? Look at the date of copyright in the footer. Is it set to the current year? Are there a lot of moving objects or flash elements on the site? Keep in mind one or two is okay but if the site is hard to navigate due to all the moving objects on it, one should proceed with caution when purchasing anything on the site. Moving or flashing objects are used as a distraction, and are generally found on lower quality sites.

Is the Site Secure?

Check the address bar in the web browser. Is the address secure? Does it start with https or just http? Most reputable retailers now host a completely secure site where all pages on the site are https not just the payment pages. Furthermore it says that the retailer was willing to pay extra to make your visit more secure and is a strong indication of the sites validity and safety.

Moving Elements and Ease of Navigation

Is the site overloaded with advertisements? This means the site is set up to make money from hosting ads and is probably not concerned with consumer safety, nor with selling a quality product. Their focus is on making money the easy way.

Find and Read their Return Policy

Knowing the return policy, is crucial for total satisfaction with your purchase. Be sure you can return it, if it doesn’t fit quite right or is not exactly what you ordered. If a site doesn’t have one, then proceed at your own risk. When buying clothing without being able to try it on before purchase this is imperative. Keep in mind there are shipping costs involved and though it is not uncommon for the return shipping to be paid by the consumer, if the mistake was on behalf of the retailer then be sure they will pay for the return shipping costs.

The Privacy Policy

Look for the sites privacy policy and learn more about how they handle the information they collect from their visitors. Do they sell it to other companies or sites on the internet. Is the information they collect anonymous, or are your personal details attached to it? All these can indicate many things about a retailer and should be known before proceeding with any action on a website, especially a purchase. If they don’t have a privacy policy this could also be a red flag since any serious website owner interested in transparency and in their online presence knows how important it is to have a visible privacy policy.

Many sites may also have a terms and conditions document that outlines any copyright information, trademarks, logos, images, content etc. Those who have these types of documents are generally serious retailers interested in legal, legitimate sales, and in protecting themselves and their visitors from anything nefarious.