RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — We have begun the online shopping season which experts say could see consumers spend an estimated $239 billion on e-commerce purchases alone.
However, buyers need to be aware, because criminals are posting tens of thousands of fake websites online that look like the real thing.
With just the click of a couple of keys a scammer can create a website that looks just like a real brand or store.
“They look very much liked the original website,’’said Yoav Keren Co-Founder of BrandShield, a company that ferrets out counterfeit and phishing websites posing as legitimate brands.
As an example, this holiday shopping season, it found websites claiming to be for Rolex, PlayStation, and Ray Ban.
All three are fake and they aren’t the only ones out there for those brands and others.
“For almost every brand out there we search through — we find hundreds, sometimes thousands or even tens of thousands of fake listings on E-commerce marketplaces,’’ said Keren.
Because of that confuision created by the fakes, how do you know what’s a legit website and what’s not?
Start by looking at the URL address in the upper left corner to make sure it’s the real website for the product. It should be a “Dot com”, have a lock Icon, as well as, start with HTTPS… The “S”” stands for secure.
There are other ways to tell too.
“In many cases if you see a very low price it’s a scam,” said Keren. “If someone approaches you on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and offers a special offer or a link to a website that has a promotion—there’s a very good chance it’s a scam.”
It’s not just major brands — small companies and firms that sell just one product are also susceptible and the problem is growing exponentially.
We see the problem in the financial industry, in the pharmaceutical industry, entertainment, and even the media,” said Keren.
Sometimes these fake websites aren’t looking for your cash, they’re looking for your personal information. Before you click the “checkout” button — make doubly sure you are buying from a legitimate source.
There are a number of other ways you can make sure you’re not buying from a counterfeit website. Use this link which offers more advice on detecting fraudulent websites.