How to check if online store is real? You might be surprised.

Examine the Website URL:

Check the website’s URL for misspellings or unusual domain names. Genuine stores typically have professional and easy-to-read web addresses, and they use “https://” for secure connections. Fake stores use misspelled brand names to impersonate or counterfit.

One of the ways to examine the website URL is to use the URL Scanner tool from Cloudflare. This tool can analyze the security, performance, technology, and network details of a URL and generate a publicly shareable report. You can also see if the URL has been flagged for malware, phishing, or unwanted software.

Another way to examine the website URL is to use the URL Inspection Tool from Google Search Console. This tool can provide information about Google’s indexed version of a specific page, and also allow you to test whether a URL might be indexable. You can also see the rendered version of the page, the loaded resources, the JavaScript output, and other information.

You can also examine the website URL by looking at its components, such as the protocol, the domain name, the path, and the query string. The protocol indicates how the data is transferred between the web server and the browser. The domain name identifies the website’s owner or organization. The path specifies the location of a specific page or resource on the website. The query string contains additional information or parameters that are passed to the web server. You can learn more about how to read a website address (URL) from this guide.

A final way to examine the website URL is to use the Website Link Analyzer tool from SmallSEOTools. This tool can check the internal and external links of a website and show you the status, anchor text, and nofollow attribute of each link. You can use this tool to find broken links, duplicate links, or spammy links on a website.

Verify Contact Information:

Legitimate online stores will provide valid contact information, including a physical address, phone number, and email address. Try reaching out to them to confirm their responsiveness.

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Read Customer Reviews and Ratings:

  • Look for verified and detailed reviews. Verified reviews are those that are confirmed by the platform or the seller to be from actual customers who purchased the product or service. Detailed reviews are those that provide specific information about the product or service, such as the features, benefits, drawbacks, and expectations. These types of reviews are more likely to be honest and useful than vague or generic ones.
  • Check the reviewer’s profile and history. You can learn more about the reviewer by looking at their profile and history of reviews. You can see how many reviews they have written, how often they write them, what products or services they review, and how they rate them. This can help you determine if the reviewer is credible, consistent, and experienced, or if they are biased, fake, or paid.
  • Compare positive and negative reviews. You can get a balanced view of the product or service by reading both positive and negative reviews. You can see what customers liked and disliked about the product or service, and how they resolved any issues or complaints. You can also see if there are any common themes or patterns among the reviews, such as recurring problems, praises, or suggestions.
  • Use the filters and sorting options. Most platforms and websites allow you to filter and sort the reviews by different criteria, such as rating, date, relevance, popularity, or helpfulness. You can use these options to narrow down your search and find the most relevant and recent reviews for your needs. You can also use these options to see how the reviews change over time, and if there are any trends or anomalies.
  • Read the responses from the seller. Some platforms and websites allow the seller to respond to the reviews, either publicly or privately. You can read the responses from the seller to see how they handle customer feedback, whether they are responsive, courteous, and professional, or whether they are defensive, rude, or dismissive. You can also see if they offer any solutions, refunds, or replacements for dissatisfied customers, or if they thank and reward satisfied customers.

Look for Trust Seals:

Genuine online stores often display trust seals from security organizations. Click on these seals to verify their authenticity. A trust seal is a badge or logo that indicates that the website has been verified by a third-party authority, such as Norton, Trustpilot, or BBB. However, some scammers may also fake trust seals, so you should always click on them to see if they are linked to the authority’s website.

Review the Return Policy:

A reputable store will have a clear and reasonable return policy. Avoid stores with missing or overly restrictive return policies.

Check the Domain Age:

Use online tools to determine the age of the website’s domain. Established and genuine stores typically have older domains, while fake ones may be relatively new.

Beware of Unrealistic Deals:

If the prices seem too good to be true, exercise caution. Fake stores often attract customers with unrealistically low prices.

Inspect Website Content:

Look for grammar and spelling mistakes on the website. Legitimate stores invest in professional content, while fake ones may have poorly written descriptions. A scam website may have poor design, spelling errors, broken links, or low-quality images. It may also have a domain name that is similar to a well-known brand, but with slight variations, such as .net instead of .com, or extra letters or numbers.

Review the Social Media Presence:

Reputable online stores often maintain active social media profiles. Check for their presence on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Reviewing the social media presence of an online store can help you determine if it is genuine or fake. Here are some steps you can follow to review the social media presence of an online store:

  • Check the number and quality of followers. A genuine online store will usually have a large and engaged following on social media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or TikTok. You can check the number of followers, likes, comments, and shares on their posts, and see if they are consistent and authentic. A fake online store may have a low number of followers, or a high number of fake or inactive followers, which can be detected by using tools like FakeCheck or FollowerAudit.
  • Check the frequency and relevance of posts. A genuine online store will usually post regularly and relevantly on social media platforms, such as showcasing their products, offering discounts, sharing customer reviews, or providing useful information. You can check the date and content of their posts, and see if they are updated and related to their niche. A fake online store may post rarely or randomly, or use irrelevant or plagiarized content, which can be detected by using tools like Copyscape or TinEye.
  • Check the quality and consistency of images. A genuine online store will usually use high-quality and consistent images of their products on social media platforms, such as showing different angles, colors, sizes, or features. You can check the resolution and style of their images, and see if they are clear and original. A fake online store may use low-quality or inconsistent images of their products, or steal images from other websites, which can be detected by using tools like Google Images or Reverse Image Search.
  • Check the customer feedback and ratings. A genuine online store will usually have positive and detailed feedback and ratings from their customers on social media platforms, such as showing satisfaction, appreciation, or recommendation. You can check the tone and length of their feedback and ratings, and see if they are genuine and helpful. A fake online store may have negative or fake feedback and ratings from their customers, or delete or ignore them, which can be detected by using tools like ReviewTrackers.

Use Secure Payment Methods:

When making a purchase, use secure payment methods like credit cards or PayPal, as they offer buyer protection. Avoid wire transfers or cryptocurrency, which can be hard to trace.

Use the free McAfee WebAdvisor to check for safe sites.

This tool can alert you if a website is suspicious or has a low trust rating. You can also use other tools like ScamAdviser  or Scamvoid to check the reputation of a website.

Check the padlock in the address bar.

A padlock icon means that the website uses encryption to protect your data. However, this does not guarantee that the website is trustworthy, as some scammers may also use encryption to appear legitimate.

Use the Google Transparency Report.

This tool can show you if a website has been flagged for malware, phishing, or unwanted software. You can also see how many users have visited the website and how often it has been reported as unsafe.

Trust Your Intuition:

Sometimes, you may encounter a situation that seems suspicious or shady, such as a dubious offer, a questionable contract, or a sketchy person. In these cases, it is important to trust your intuition and listen to your gut feeling. Your intuition is your natural ability to sense what is right or wrong, safe or dangerous, genuine or fake. It is based on your past experiences, your knowledge, and your values. By trusting your intuition, you can avoid potential scams, frauds, or harm.

However, trusting your intuition does not mean acting impulsively or irrationally. It means being aware of the red flags and warning signs that something is off or unprofessional. It also means doing your due diligence and research before making a decision or agreeing to anything. If you’re uncomfortable with a transaction, it’s best to err on the side of caution and walk away. You don’t have to explain yourself or justify your choice. You have the right to say no and protect yourself.

Remember, trusting your intuition is not a sign of weakness or paranoia. It is a sign of strength and wisdom. It can help you make smart decisions that are in your best interest. By trusting your intuition, you can avoid unnecessary risks and regrets.

Targeted brands by online scammers

Some examples of brands that are often targeted by online scammers are:

  • Nike, Adidas, Puma, and Guess: These popular clothing and footwear brands have been impersonated by scammers who create fake websites that look similar to the official ones, but sell counterfeit or stolen products, or steal customers’ banking data.

Microsoft, Apple, Google, and Amazon: These tech giants are frequently used as bait for remote server access scams, also known as tech support scams, where fraudsters pretend to be representatives of these companies and ask for access to the user’s computer or device, claiming to fix a problem or offer a refund.


PayPal, Visa, Mastercard, and American Express: These payment services and card issuers are often involved in phishing scams, where scammers send fake emails or text messages that mimic the official communication from these brands, and ask the user to click on a link or provide personal or financial information, such as passwords, PINs, or card details.


Netflix, Spotify, Hulu, and Disney+: These streaming services are attractive targets for scammers who offer free or discounted subscriptions, or claim that the user’s account has been suspended or compromised, and ask the user to follow a link or enter their login credentials or payment information on a spoofed website.


Bitcoin, Ethereum, Dogecoin, and Shiba Inu: These cryptocurrencies are often used by scammers who promise high returns on investments, or ask the user to send a small amount of crypto to a wallet address in exchange for a larger amount, or claim that the user has won a giveaway or a lottery, but need to pay a fee or tax to claim the prize.

Read more:

 7 Industries Most Targeted by Brand Impersonation Attacks – Allure Security

Top 5 Industries Targeted By Scammers & How to prevent it? –  IDMerit

New Trend in Fraud Scams, “Targeted Links”, Finding Success With Impersonations of Popular Brands 

Avast new trend in online shopping counterfeit online stores online scammers. Fake stores

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About Abu Hamza

Abu Hamza is member of Business Bee Staff

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