When it comes to Internet discounts, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
This afternoon, I was trying to find a discount outlet for something I really wanted to purchase for my son. I couldn’t afford the retail price, so I searched on Google, found an online supplier, and spent some time on the site.
I paged through item after item; everything looked entirely legitimate. I selected what I wanted, then did a little mental math – the money I needed was 70% off retail price.
The amount of the discount was a red flag.
I put one toe into the transaction process. Just Step 1. Reading over the page, something didn’t feel right. I began looking for other familiar features, for a “VeriSign”, “TRUSTe”, or other legitimate symbol that would indicate basic Internet transaction security.
I didn’t see one. There were also no pages or links for
- Customer service
- Shipping policy
- Returns policy
- Security & Privacy
- Mention of SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) encryption
- Contact information with headquarters location.
I needed no verification for the uneasy feeling in my gut.
I stopped in my tracks, and went back to Google. This time, I searched on the company name, along with “reviews,” “complaints,” and “fraud.”
I found numerous items scattered across the web. Some customers had received knock-offs rather than the (pictured) brand name products. Others tried to cancel their transactions, and were unable to do so. There were complaints that negative reviews hadn’t been posted.
Do I know if this company is legit or not? I have enough doubts to know that I don’t want to do business with them.
When it comes to the Internet, “buyer beware” indeed.
Putting up a snazzy site is easy. Faking reviews (or not posting others) is equally easy. Counterfeit products? Likewise. E-commerce is a great convenience, but requires paying careful attention.
Before you provide any personal data over the web, be sure you’re dealing with a legitimate organization. And it only takes a few minutes to check, or at the very least, to have doubts and then confirm or eliminate them.
After all, you’re turning over name, address, email and credit card details. That’s enough to kiss your money goodbye, or worse, to risk identity theft.
It’s worth repeating, especially when it comes to purchases on the Internet: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.