Published on September 15th, 2014 | by Pete0
I’m Not Falling For That One’ — How To Avoid Being Hoodwinked By Rogue Businesses
In 2014, the consumer has reached new levels of empowerment thanks to the internet, its proliferation of review sites and the greater overall culture of customer awareness. Jolly yellow stars line up to reassure you that you’ve bought the right electric toothbrush on Amazon, and booking a hotel in Budapest is a breeze when you have TripAdvisor testimony to gently hold your hand through the process. But has all this readily accessible review material in fact made us too trusting? When dealing with smaller companies, local businesses and unfamiliar websites, venturing beyond the reassurance of big name brands, how do we arm ourselves against rip-off merchants and fraudsters?
Perform a company credit check
Particularly in the case of small local businesses, if they’re experiencing cash flow issues, you can demystify the level of risk you will assume when dealing with them, simply by using a reputable company credit check service. Any bankruptcy filings, judgments or defaults should show up like giant red flags, and you should treat them accordingly, i.e. avoid at all costs.
Investigate the company’s registration
Full details of this should show up on the credit check, but if you have your concerns from the off, this is a quick way of ascertaining how long a business has been trading. If the company has only been created recently, or if they’ve been registered to a bizarre address, you could well have grounds for suspicion.
Snoop around their website
Poorly constructed websites riddled with mistakes, poor grammar, generic images and an overabundance of reassurances are probably about as genuine as they appear. Your first port of call for checking its legitimacy is Google. Try to determine whether any external websites or forums have information on the website or company, and use a website review service to check for ratings. Remember: a dearth of information is as much of a warning sign as a poor review.
Check payment methods
If you plan to complete a transaction on a website you haven’t used before, make sure your payment method has an escape plan. PayPal is probably the most trusted method for both parties. Look out for a padlock or key in the address bar, the signal that your payment is secure, as well as https:// at the opening of the URL.
Whether you’re buying a pair of hair straighteners or a yacht online, the most suspicious deals are those that seem too good to be true. Take a step back, a deep breath, and ask yourself ‘Is this worth being scammed over?’ Do your research, don’t be too trusting, and if you have any doubts, it’s time to take your business elsewhere.