Some businesses seem too good to be true. In many cases, these companies often end up being scams, and you may only know about it once you never receive a product or service. Before you get scammed, you can look for signs the organization isn’t as reputable as it claims to be. Here are some signs to look for when you’re unsure whether it’s a great deal or a malicious scam.
1. A Countdown Promoting Urgency
Many businesses are guilty of promoting a fear-of-missing-out culture that makes people think they must snag a particular item before it’s gone. Scammers can capitalize on this fear by enticing you to buy a product with a countdown that promises a huge sale. If the sale seems unrealistic, it likely is. Avoid websites you don’t know with countdowns that make you feel you must buy immediately.
2. Unpolished Emails
A reputable enterprise will send you emails from a domain you recognize — or at least one that looks legitimate. Actual companies take time in their emails. You may notice a specific structure, like a hook for an opening, then a body of text explaining what the email is about. A scammer might send a short email that induces a sense of urgency.
You should always check the sender to get a clue of who’s behind the emails. Good organizations typically want people to buy from them, so their emails to anyone on their email list are bound to be carefully thought through.
3. Spelling Mistakes
One of the telltale signs that a business is not reputable lies in the copy. If you read over their web pages and notice several spelling mistakes, it could be a sign they created the website as quickly as possible just to get listings for products or services up. You’ll notice plenty of typos and grammatical errors in the text and possibly even in the logo, indicating the domain owner didn’t take their time building it.
4. Stock Photos
While stock photos alone aren’t a sign of a scammy company, you should notice where they’re most prevalent. If you see stock photos on a product listing — especially those without detail — you should be wary of buying from the website. The business might be a scam if it doesn’t include information about the product.
The number of photos might also tip you off to whether it could be a scam. If you only see one or two, they might have lifted the images from somewhere else and claimed them as their own.
5. Unsecured Website
A secure website is the kind you typically visit. They start with “https://” and often have a lock on the address bar beside the URL. It ensures the website has a private connection. Not every website with an unsecured connection means it’s a scammer, though.
Sometimes, normal websites can be unsecure. Since your connection isn’t private, you have to be careful with the information you enter on these sites, as someone else might see it. The best way to fight against data thieves when you must enter your information on a sketchy-looking website is to create a separate strong password for this login, with a mixture of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols.
6. Looks Too Good to Be True
Sometimes, you may see the deal of a lifetime — but if it’s too good to be true and you can’t find the same item for a similar price elsewhere, it might be a sign of a scam. For example, a website might claim everything is free and that you only need to pay for shipping.
Learn to Spot a Scam When You See It
After practicing for a while identifying scams, you should be able to figure out when a website or company might be fake. Remember to analyze everything about a site before trusting it. Just because it seems like it might be safe doesn’t mean it isn’t hiding something under the surface.
Devin Partida writes about investor technologies, big data and apps. She is also the Editor-in-Chief of ReHack.com.