How to recognize fraudulent online shops - PC-WORLD

How to recognize fraudulent online shops - PC-WORLD

How to recognize fraudulent online shops - PC-WORLD

Verena Ottmann

Anyone looking for a bargain when shopping online can easily fall victim to a fraudulent dealer, also known as a fake shop. Stay alert with these tips.

EnlargeTrusted Shops is one of the largest certificate service providers with over 25,000 checked shops.

Reliably detecting fake shops

Fraudsters who want to rip off buyers with fake shops can also hide behind online shops. How to recognize them. Rip-off instead of shopping pleasure: Fake shops pretend to visitors that they are a reputable online shop, but are in fact the work of fraudsters who want to get your money without ever delivering the ordered goods. Fake websites are difficult to spot at first glance. The scammers often copy the content of real shops, including product texts and images. This makes them look familiar and leaves the buyer with little doubt as to their authenticity. So that you don't fall for a fake shop, pay attention to the following points:

Unusually low prices

A gleaming chrome espresso machine with all the trimmings for 199 euros or a brand new iPad with top features for 99 euros - too good to be true. The bargain hunter in us likes to switch off common sense when it comes to such offers, and that is what the operators of dubious online shops rely on. You should therefore exercise great caution with seemingly extremely cheap offers. In the worst case, if you take advantage of such a dream offer, you will receive no goods at all or only inferior goods, while you will not get your money back. Exceptions to the rule are used, refurbished or subsidized devices (e.g. in connection with a mobile phone contract). If you don't know the current price of a product, you should do a quick online price research before you buy it to avoid falling for scammers.

Reading tip:Online shopping - always find the best offer

High discounts

If an online shop offers an alleged discount of, for example, 50 percent on the non-binding retail price of branded items for all available items, all your alarm bells should ring. It's best to leave the site immediately and shop elsewhere! Also, supposed “You are the 555,000. Visitors to our shop and receive a 55 percent discount on all prices” are usually fake.

Discrepancy between URL and goods

Women's fashion at www.uola-russconnection.de or hi-fi devices at www.alles-mustermann.de? The operators of fake shops roam the Internet with constantly changing addresses and place their lure offers on as many URLs as possible, which they can get hold of legally or illegally. If you notice such a discrepancy between the web address and the range of goods, leave the offer page.

Missing operator information

If you find an online shop suspicious, research contact information such as address or telephone number and an imprint. If there are no entries or entries that are difficult to understand, avoid this shop.

3 criteria that indicate fake shops

Control the seals of approval of shops

In Germany, four seals of approval have prevailed, which identify largely trustworthy online shops. You should know them. Some companies and consortia have made it their mission to make online shopping safer and more convenient for consumers. There are a corresponding number of seals of approval and certificates on the web – including fantasy logos. Trusted:

Trusted Shops:One of the largest certificate service providers with over 25,000 checked shops. Online shops are checked according to a bundle of criteria. At www.trustedshops.de you will find a comprehensive customer, overview and rating portal including buyer protection.

Safer Shopping:The security service set up by TÜV Süd is characterized by its extensive test criteria. The number of checked shops is rather clear. Information is available at www.safer-shopping.de.

EHI:The Euro-Handels-Institut (EHI) is an association of several German trading institutions and has been testing online shops since 1999. You can find out more at www.ehi-siegel.de.

Shop information:This seal issues certificates for good customer ratings. Since registration is free for dealers, many shops carry this certificate. Find out more at www.shopauskunft.de.

How to spot fraudulent online stores - PC-WELT


Even if an online shop adorns itself with seals of approval, it can be a fraud. Dubious shop operators only use the logo graphics, although they have not undergone any testing. The trick with the seal of another shop is also popular: if you click on the seal in question, you will end up with the details of a completely different website. For this reason, you should always first check the authenticity of the seals by clicking on dealers who are unknown to you.

See also:Buy ink - save money! Tips for bargain hunters

How to shop cheaply in incognito mode

By surfing in stealth mode, you prevent shops from recognizing you. If you want to trick the dynamic pricing, with which some shops adjust their prices dynamically to the customer and thus often to your disadvantage (see tips on the left), you should open an incognito, private or in-private window in the browser. In this protected browsing mode, you leave no traces, such as cookies or images, that retailers can use to vary their prices based on previously visited websites or previous searches.

In Google Chrome, first click on the icon with the three dots in the upper right corner and then on "New Incognito Window". It's faster with the shortcut Ctrl-Shift-N. In Firefox, click on the icon with the three bars in the upper right corner and on "New private window". In Edge, select the three dots and "New In-Private Window".

Ebay classifieds scams

EnlargeOn eBay classifieds, you should prioritize offers in your area.

Recently there has been an increase in eBay classifieds fraud. Criminal sellers collect and never deliver the goods. At a real flea market it is “money for goods” – the buyer knows what he is getting and the seller then has his money in his hand. On the internet, of course, things are different. No buyer drives hundreds of kilometers for a 100-euro smartphone to pick it up personally from the seller and pay in cash. Of course there are criminals who take advantage of the trust and naivety of buyers. In principle, you should always contact the seller via the eBay classifieds mail system. Here there are some precautions to discover scammers using a recurring scam. If a seller only wants to discuss details of the transaction by e-mail outside of eBay classifieds, you should break off contact immediately.

In particular, avoid purchases where the seller does not want to reveal their identity and wants to use payment transfer services such as Western Union and Moneygram. These are particularly popular with scammers because they can have the money paid out in cash. There is no way for the buyer to get their money back.

A reputable seller will give you their address, bank details or PayPal account. This creates trust and ensures security. Of course, it is even better to pick up the goods personally from the seller. Limit your eBay classifieds search to within a few miles to find listings near you.

Recognize phishing and spam offers

Criminals use phishing and spam e-mails to lure their victims to fraudulent online shops. How to recognize the news. Phishing emails are messages from strangers who misuse the trusted name of a company, brand or product. Spam e-mails are advertising messages that sound promising and are aimed at rip-offs. Common feature: Both variants will be sent to you unsolicited. Anyone who follows the link in the email either ends up on a fraudulent website or in a dubious online shop.

Pay attention to the sender: The name and e-mail address of the sender can contain clear indications of an attempt at fraud: long and cryptic addresses or attempts to imitate real addresses should set alarm bells ringing for you.

Check the content of emails: With some topics in the subject and in the body of emails, you can be almost 100 percent sure that it is phishing or spam. These include, among other things, the topics of financial services, medicines (especially sexual enhancers), supposedly innovative new products ("wonder drugs!") from the technical or medical field, product offers before the official release date or special sales with allegedly incredible discounts. It is best to move such messages to the virtual recycle bin immediately and define spam mails as "spam" in your mail program.

Never click on unfamiliar links: The senders of dubious messages use links in their emails to lure careless users to their virus-infected websites or to spy on credit card details. Therefore, you should never click on links in emails of dubious origin. If you're not sure where a link goes, hover your mouse over the link in the message. A small pop-up window will then appear, presenting you with the entire URL hidden behind the hyperlink.

Delete cookies for neutral offers

Some retailers adjust their prices to the customer. By specifically deleting cookies, you prevent having to pay extra. If you look at an item offered online several times, this signals to the retailer that you are clearly interested in buying it. The same applies if you visit websites on a specific topic, for example sports shoes, and then call up the shop of a shoe mail order company and look at the articles there. Or you browse through a comparatively expensive brand shop and then visit a similar shop.

All of this can result in you being shown a higher price. Shops that use dynamic pricing algorithms adjust the sales prices individually to the customer - and that can get expensive. Fight back against dynamic pricing!

Measure 1: Do not browse online shops when you are logged in. Instead, log in with your username at checkout.

Measure 2:Delete the cookies from your browser before you go shopping. As a result, the online shop does not find out who you are, what you are interested in and which other shops you have visited. This works on the PC and in the mobile browsers on the cell phone or tablet.

In Chrome for Windows, press [Ctrl]+[Shift]+[Del]. The "Clear browsing data" window opens. For the time period, choose All Time, check all boxes, and choose Clear Data. You can also delete cookies in Firefox and Edge with [Ctrl]+[Shift]+[Del].


In the Chrome app on Android, tap the More icon and History. Select the period and tick the boxes. Confirm with "Delete data". In iOS you delete cookies via “Settings –> Safari –> Clear history and website data”.

How to unmask dubious sellers

Who doesn't want to strike immediately at attractive special offers? But sometimes you fall for scammers. We tell you how to check providers for their seriousness. Nothing is more tempting than grabbing a super bargain. Nevertheless, you should not pull out your wallet right away, but first check the offer for its legality and the seller for his seriousness.

In addition to the general criteria such as plausible price and seal, which can be used to assess the seriousness of an online shop, there are also various ways of obtaining information about specific shops.

This is particularly easy with shopping platforms such as Amazon Marketplace or eBay. With both, you can see the quality of a shop based on the customer ratings. Incidentally, if there are bad ratings, you should definitely find out the reasons for them, because maybe you don't agree with the points of criticism. You should also distinguish between product and shop ratings when reading customer reviews.

If the shop does not offer an order on account, which is often the case with first-time orders, you should definitely choose a payment method that offers you buyer protection, i.e. classic bank transfer or direct debit, or payment by credit card or PayPal. Because with these means of payment, you can have the amount paid reversed in case of doubt.


The imprint of a website also provides information on the seriousness of a provider. Is a commercial register number given? Can you find your name and address? Then go to the service area and look at the guarantee and return or cancellation conditions. Is the information clear and understandable? If so, the shop is probably trustworthy.

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