As an Amazon FBA Seller you're probably familiar with the popular websites to source from for Online Arbitrage, like the ones I mention in my blog post “The Best Online Arbitrage Websites” What's keeping you from going to the next level though? When you combine the resource I'm about to share with you with the sourcing skills you've learned with experience or perhaps within the Online Arbitrage Challenge, you truly have a new secret weapon. This blog post will help guide your shopping journey, provide direction on how to identify fraudulent sites, as well as strategies used by experienced arbitrage sellers that ensure safety in dealing with various suppliers. As we navigate through the world of internet commerce and explore different tactics employed by astute shoppers, let's make sure that any deals you come across are legal, transparent and trustworthy - providing maximum profit potential while protecting against fraudsters out there.
Fact hunter finding: According to a report by the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center, online scams accounted for more than $4.2 billion in losses in 2020 alone.
Why it's important to become a master of website vetting
It is important to be able to identify online website shopping scams because falling victim to these scams can have serious consequences such as:
- Financial Loss - Pretty obvious right? Nobody wants to lose money on OA flips. Let alone losing money on products they never even received. The truth is many online shopping scams are designed to steal your money. This can take the form of fraudulent charges on your credit card, fake websites that take your payment information and never send the product, or even scams that ask you to wire money or send gift cards.
- Identity theft: Some online shopping scams are designed to steal your personal information, such as your name, address, and credit card number. This information can be used to commit identity theft, which can have long-lasting and far-reaching consequences.
- Malware and viruses: Some online shopping scams involve clicking on links or downloading files that contain malware or viruses. This can damage your computer or mobile device, compromise your personal information, or give hackers access to your accounts.
- Time and energy: Falling victim to an online shopping scam can be a frustrating and time-consuming experience. You may need to spend hours away from other important tasks and cause stress and anxiety.
5 Ways to quickly vet an e-commerce shopping site
1 Check the Domain Age and owners contact info: This is the easiest and first step I teach. I prefer using WHOIS to do this. There's a chrome extension for it or you can use ASIN Gadget PRO (we've built in several of the tools I use for site vetting). If the domain has only been registered a few months or even less than A year, I typically stay away. The younger it is, the more of a red flag. Checking the registered owners location is also possible but often times will be masked and not actually visible. Below you can see the example site was just registered in November of 2022. I wouldn't buy from a site that new.
2. Use www.scamdoc.com as an aid. This website can give you detailed information and help make a safe/non safe determination for every website. It works by analyzing various factors such as the website's age, popularity, owner information, location, and customer reviews to assess its credibility. They also have a free chrome extension that pops up on the website if it's believed to be risky. This tool is always my 2nd go to. Below is an example of an untrusted website according to scamdoc.
3. Check Trust pilot and Scam adviser- These sites are great to have in your toolbox. Trustpilot is one of the most well known sites for seeing customer reviews. It's not always accurate 100% of the time though as I have seen several sites that have clearly paid for a lot of fake reviews to make their ratings come up on Trustpilot. Scam adviser is similar but they give a "trust score" and that is typically what I take a quick look at. Both of these sites are built into ASIN Gadget Pro as well. Below is an example of scam site according to Scam Adviser. You can see the smiley faces have 81 (this is kind of like their star rating) but the trust level of the site is only 12% so they've got a lot of fake reviews.
4. Check the contact info of the website. I typically do this only if I'm still unsure about the sites trustworthiness after the first 3 steps I've laid out here. This is usually pretty easy to find on the website. My rule of thumb is they need to have a mailing and email address on the site clearly displayed. Several sites just have a contact form and that's often a red flag. If they have a physical address listed I always do a google maps search. I prefer to see the street view but that's not always possible. More often than not you can get a street view close to the address to be able to tell if the address listed is a residential or commercial area. If it's residential I wont buy from the site. Below you can see that this website didn't finish setting up the site, or proof read it if they did. I wouldn't share my email or make a purchase from them.
5. The last step I perform if I've exhausted all the other steps and I'm still not quite sure, is check social media. Social media has become a huge search engine for businesses. I check Facebook and Instagram primarily for the amount of followers they have, any reviews left on the platform, and if the business is active at all.
There are a few things I'd like to mention that you could also look for but I don't do them as often as the main points I've listed above.
- Check the SSL certificate by looking for the padlock icon next to the URL in your browser
- Check for spelling errors and unusual grammar on the website
- Look for secure payment options
- Check the sites return policy for easy to spot red flags
What happens if I'm scammed?
First thing is NOT to panic. You do have options and this will not be the end of your business.
- I always suggest using a major credit card to make online purchases. They have so many benefits and won't cost any additional money, if used correctly. Contact your credit card company and dispute the charge. Get their advice on whether or not you should close the card and get a new one. Another purchasing option I like to use is PayPal as they have great buyer protection.
- File a complaint with the FTC and your state's attorney general office. This will help with investigations into the company that scammed you. It also helps to document the experience so others don't have to go through what you went through.
- Contact the BBB (Better Business Bureau). They are a great resource for help but they aren't a government entity.
- Leave reviews on the sites I mention above as well as any of your favorite review sites. This helps warn others of the trouble and can prevent someone else from going through what you are.
Honestly I don't think I've ever lost a credit card dispute so that will always be my first suggestion. A major telecommunications company stole from me and I even won that case. Invest in a good credit card company!
This is by no means the only steps you can take to vet a shopping website! In time and with practice you will develop your own processes and systems that will make your decision taking time quick and very effective. I'd like to conclude by saying that if in doubt, its best NOT to make a purchase from the questionable site.