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How to dodge dodgy websites

A few tips for staying safe online (Image: Shutterstock)
A few tips for staying safe online (Image: Shutterstock)

Graham spotted a new website for cheap Weber barbeques. Payment by credit card carried a 5% fee. Payment by direct transfer had a 5% discount. So he transferred the money then got an email cancelling his order and ‘refunding’ him. But the only thing getting burned last summer was Graham. It was a scam.

As we rely on the internet more and more for paying bills, booking trips and buying stuff, getting scammed is a real concern. So how to spot the rogues? Our top tips will help keep you safe.

Too good to be true?

If the deal you’re being offered is better than anything else, ask yourself why. Low prices are there to hook bargain hunters and sell them fakes or things that don’t even exist. And if you’re being hurried, even more reason to give it a miss.

How’s the speling?

Make sure you have a look around the site itself. Is the language right? Are the images and logo fuzzy? Professional websites should look professional. If there’s no ‘Contact us’ page, don’t contact them.

Dodgy by name…

Domain names are a good indicator of authenticity. Names ending .net or .org are not normally used for shopping so beware. If the name has a famous brand in it like, that’s another watch out.

Check a

The easiest way to check if a website is for real is to copy and paste the URL into Google’s Safe Browsing Site Status Tool. It’s basically a fake website detector and will tell you if the site is safe or not

Return to sender

Legitimate companies will always tell you how to send something back if it’s faulty or you’ve changed your mind. There should also be terms and conditions (even though you might never read them) and a privacy policy about your data.

I’m lovin’ it

Ignore the five-star reviews. Nothing is perfect and they can be manipulated. To get genuine opinions, read the two and three-stars. And check the most recent. Also, make sure the review is for the actual product. Failing that, Fakespot helps you get an honest picture.

It pays to pay sensibly

If you pay by card, there are some safeguards and you have certain rights about getting your money back. Pay by bank transfer and you’re unlikely to see your hard-earned cash again. Avoid.


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