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Fraud Alert: Some Shopping Sites Will Hang You Out To Dry

March 11, 2008 by Bryn
shefinds |

We admit it, shopping online is quite the luxury. I get to lounge around in my pj's on any given Saturday perusing the virtual aisles of my favorite boutiques or department stores, snatching up designer finds and bargains with the slightest click of my mouse. But like all things in this world, it's sometimes too good to be true. Recently, more and more fraudulent sites are popping up who scam customers out of their money and never deliver on purchases. In one particular case, a consumer purchased 2 designer hoodies from stylerunway.com, and never received the goods. The buyer also later found out that the site ran under a different name – fashionmansion.com – a huge red flag for fraud.

So how can you know that you are purchasing your stuff from a legitimate site? SheFinds is here to help with tips to protect yourself from those dirty culprits who give online shopping a bad name.

1. Pay attention to the 'contact us' section offered on the site – or lack thereof. A site should give a company name, address, and phone number for where to be reached. 

2. Check the below sites to see if anybody has reported a previous scam involving the shopping site you are thinking of buying from (or search google with the site's name and 'fraud' to see what comes up):

3. If you don't know a merchant, test-drive them by buying something small first before breaking out the big guns with an expensive purchase.

4. Only shop with companies based in the US – that way, you're protected by state and federal consumer laws. To see if a site is registered in the US, go to network-tools.com and look up their URL IP address.

5. You can look up a site's registration info at whois.net to see if everything seems to check out. For example, if no phone number is listed, it's a warning sign that the company doesn't want to be contacted – not good for you.

6. Never use a debit card when paying online – always opt for a credit card, since unauthorized charges over $50 are covered by federal law.  

7. Check to see if the site is encrypted by right clicking on the site with your mouse – BTW, stylerunway was not. 

8. If you are a victim of shopping fraud, be wary that it might not end at just not receiving the handbag you thought you bought. Many of these sites are out to steal your identity, so you should immediately file a complaint with the BBB, contact your credit card company and PayPal, and obtain a credit report to see if any of your other accounts have been affected. Also complain right away to the Domain Registrar via whois.net so the fraudulent site can be shut down stat.

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