How to Avoid Potentially Fraudulent Businesses Online
Over the past several years, it has become easier than ever to create an online business and accept payments. Traditional credit card processors who set-up full merchant accounts (like Rise Payments) often require a business to provide several forms of identification to set-up an account and they have underwriting teams who validate a business and their website, before they are allowed to accept payments.
However, today, many new businesses are starting out as online stores and they sign up for payment acceptance via platforms like Shopify or PayPal which allow them to get up and running within minutes and without validation that they are who they say they are. That leaves consumers exposed to shopping with potentially fraudulent businesses. Today, consumers must do some due diligence to avoid shopping with a fraudulent business. Eventually these businesses will be shut down by their processor, but it can take a while before complaints pile up and that happens. In the meantime, consumers may have purchased large amounts of products from a particular business. There is little to no risk of you losing your money as a consumer. The banks that sponsor the merchant account are who carry risk for any financial losses. But that is not the point. Even if you know your credit card company will reimburse the stolen money, you still do not want to spend your hard earned money funding criminal or even terrorist activity. These fraudsters are thieves, and it takes everyone pulling together to fight back against crime.
The good news is- it is fairly easy to get a good sense of the legitimacy of a business. This doesn't mean that you can't shop online. All it requires is that you take a few steps to be sure the businesses you are supporting online are real businesses. Consider whether they have a physical location. If not, are there pictures of the business owners or customers online? What is their return policy? Are there positive or negative reviews about the business? Not having reviews, in and of itself, does not mean that a business is fake or a bad business. All businesses are new at some point and we don't discourage you from shopping at new businesses. But all of the information you can discover about a business- from their social presence to their reviews-works together to establish the legitimacy of the company. A real online only store will be working hard to establish a brand and relationship with their customers.
So, are you interested to learn how to easily spot a potentially fraudulent business online? Let me show you an example of one that I came across recently and tell me what you think. . . .