Most e-retailers are professional and reliable service providers that are committed to helping their customers as best they can. Unfortunately, there are also some bad apples out there, who are only looking to get you to part with your money without actually shipping anything in return. So how can you recognize an unreliable e-retailer? Here’s how. 

How do you recognize a fake e-retailer? 

  1. Use your common sense and compare prices
  2. Look out for trustmarks
  3. Check the URL
  4. Check the web design and payment methods
  5. Read the reviews (or do some Google-fu)
  6. Check the e-retailer with the police, Chamber of Commerce and Who.is directories
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1. Use your common sense and compare prices

When it comes to prices, use your common sense. Implausibly low or odd-looking prices (like €19.22) are often a good sign you’re dealing with a fraudulent website. Try going to a comparison site to compare prices. If it seems too good to be true, it often is. 

2. Look out for trustmarks

There are various trustmarks for e-retailers out there, some of which require a rigorous certification process and some which do not. Always take a good hard look at your e-retailer’s trustmark.

You can always click on the Shopping Secure logo, which will take you to our certificate. Find out more about checking trustmarks here.

3. Check the URL

An e-retailer’s website must always be secured through an SSL connection – you can easily see whether this is the case by checking if there’s a lock in the address bar. Clicking on the lock will show you the security details. You should always see a lock on payment pages and any other page on which you enter personal information.

If you come across a website with a URL that resembles a well-known e-retailer but has a suffix such as “discount,” “deals,” or “sale,” be wary and check the URL in our member list. These tag-ons are a firm favorite among scammers! E.g., www.e-retailer-discount-sale-mega-outlet.nl

Check whether the URL matches what is being sold on the website. Fraudsters sometimes buy up expired URLs and then use them to sell completely different products. If you come across a website called www.motorbikesgalore.nl that mainly sells toys or dresses, something fishy might be going on. 

4. Check the web design and payment methods

What does the website look like? Here are some things you can look out for:

  • Does it look like the website was translated with Google Translate?
  • Is the website full of spelling errors and typos?
  • Can you find contact information and is it genuine? 

Checking the available payment methods is another reliable way to verify authenticity. Fake e-retailers often only offer one payment method, whereas real e-retailers that sell products are required by law to offer buy-now-pay-later options.

5. Read the reviews (or do some Google-fu)

It's always helpful to take a moment to read some reviews from other buyers. You could check the reviews on the website itself or do a quick Google search for Review + [e-retailer].

Some e-retailers have thousands upon thousands of reviews. While you don’t have to read them all, you could definitely scan a couple to get an overall idea. Try reading a few positive ones and a few more critical ones to see how the seller dealt with complaints.

6. Check the e-retailer with the police

Not completely confident yet? Then take a look at the website of the police (this site is in Dutch). The police has a blacklist of malicious e-retailers. 

Other resources you can use to check an e-retailer include:

  • Who.is and SIDN
    These two websites let you check when a particular URL was created. If a website was registered relatively recently, this may be a sign that something is afoot. 
  • Chamber of Commerce 
    The Chamber of Commerce number and VAT number must be listed on the website (and in all correspondence). Please note that Chamber of Commerce details may also be fake, so don’t trust blindly in a CoC number.