The On-Line Shoppers Survival Kit

Every day thousands of consumers are being ripped-off and scammed by fake and bogus websites and Spam emails.

Unfortunately, many internet users are simply too gullible, and are seemingly either ignorant, stupid - or both.

Sadly, many of those who get scammed are often the most vulnerable in our society.

If it were possible to ban people from buying stuff off the web until they'd passed a 'surfing driving test' - I would!

But prevention is far better than the cure!

With a little knowledge you CAN easily avoid losing your hard-earned money to these scammers!

The web is a jungle, and for those who are not vigilant, it can be a very dangerous place.

There are SIX simple ground rules you must obey when you're tempted to buy goods or services on-line.

1. NEVER assume a website or an email is genuine. (Don't get ripped-off by Spam email - Click Here)

2. Unless you're dealing with a well known high street store or known business, be wary.

3. NEVER pay by cash, money transfer, cheque or debit card for any on-line transaction.

4. ALWAYS use your credit card because it should offer you protection if you're ripped-off.

5. When using credit cards on-line look for the yellow padlock on the bottom right on an https:// page!

6. And lastly, remember - If it looks too good to be true - it probably is!

So, how do you determine if a website is genuine or is a fake?

Take the time to do some research.

Are there any consumer alerts or complaints against the business?

How long has website been running?

Who might own the website/business?

Where are they located?

How to research consumer alerts and complaints

Simply go to any of the main search engines (I recommend Google) and in the search field type the name of the business or the complete URL (ie. followed by either review or complaints or by rip-off If nothing comes up that acts as a warning try typing this in the search box: related: (remember, is just an example, so make sure you use the correct website (URL) address!)

Checking out the domain name registry

This can reveal important information about the business, where they might be located, who the owner could be and how long the domain (business) has been registered, and even their phone number.

If the domain extension is a .UK such as .CO.UK a .ORG.UK simply go to and perform a WHOIS search. (don't use the www. when you do a search, just type the name).

If the domain extension is a .COM or .NET or a .ORG go to and perform the same checks as above. The information could be somewhat less than you expected, but it should suffice for the purposes as illustrated.

If the domain is fairly new and the Registrant address is missing or differs from any contact details on the website - your alarm bells should start ringing!

If the business domain address and or hosting is not within the UK - proceed with great caution. For instance, is located on the island of Cyprus, and is run by the notorious ticket conman Michael Rangos who has been featured on BBC Watchdog several times!

Here's a prime example of a fake website from Beijing, China and hosted in the USA:

Checking out Limited companies

If the website states they are a UK 'Limited' company, run a WebCheck at Companies House. This can reveal some very important information such as when the business was incorporated, the date when the last accounts were filed, and for a £1.00 a time you can request other data, such as past accounts and the names and addresses of the directors, etc.

What get's my alarm bells ringing is seeing 'Company Dissolved' or 'Accounts dormant or filed late'.

Trade Associations

I'm always amazed by the number of people who buy from travel agents who aren't members of ABTA (Association of British Travel Agents), or from other businesses who claim they're a member of a particular association. Even if the logo says they are members - don't always believe it! You can easily check to see if their membership is genuine or not. For travel agent for instance, go to For all other Associations, go here.

How to avoid being ripped-off by Spam emails and bogus offers! Click Here
And, unless you want a nasty virus NEVER, NEVER open an email attachment if it's from a stranger!!

Time spent on reconnaissance is seldom, if ever, wasted!

After taking good note of my comments above I hope your buying experience will be much safer!


Editor, Rip-Off Britain

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