Recently, someone left a comment on one of my archived posts warning readers about a sketchy company that claims to sell authentic Ugg boots. The reader says she placed her order and waited for weeks, but never saw the boots. Multiple attempts to reach customer service or get her money back have failed, so she's trying to warn other shoppers about this totally bogus and phony Ugg retailer.
Reading something like this is really upsetting, especially since the reader says she was trying to get the Uggs as Christmas gifts for her nieces. But it also reminded me of the importance of really knowing who you're buying from before you make a purchase—especially around the holidays when criminals prey on unsuspecting shoppers who are literally desperate to get that latest "must-have" item under the tree by December 25.
So here are some tips to help you avoid online scams, because scoring a "great bargain" is not worth the very real risk of losing your hard earned cash (or your personal information, for that matter):
How do you shop safe online?
- Buy from online stores that also have brick-and-mortar stores. If you shop at the Bath & Body Works at your local mall, you can pretty much guarantee that www.bathandbodyworks.com is a legimate website too. Double-check the url to ensure you're in the right place.
- Research the website. Do a quick Google search for the name of the store and "review." That's what I did for the Ugg retailer in question, and right away, I found dozens of serious complaints from customers on various forums. Red flag, people! Steer cleer.
- Assess the quality of the website itself. Does it have a neat, professional layout? Are there misspelled words? Does it at least claim to have secure checkout, contact information and a clear return policy? I understand many fledgling companies don't have the resources to produce fancy e-stores, but if a website looks really sketchy and sloppy to you, don't risk it. Wait and see if the store is still around in a couple months, then consider making a purchase.
- If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. This old adage certainly rings true in the digital age. If some store claims to sell dirt cheap "authentic" Uggs in styles and sizes that are sold out everywhere else, you know something's up.