Jan 27, 2011
Valerie Hayworth

How to Check if a Website is Legitimate and Reputable

A 5-Point Checklist

1. Thoroughly Review Seals and Awards

Are there security seals? Click on them!

- Are they not clickable? – They may not be clickable in the product’s ad (a banner, etc.) -but should be on the  company’s web site.

    - Clickable?  Review the page that opens and check if it describes the certification of the exact same web site domain that you just came from.

      Do you see an award seal or is an award mentioned?

      - A company that received an important award will always be glad to give you a direct link to read more about it.

        - Do a quick Google search with the name of the product and the award it claims to have. If you find nothing, then it’s safe to say they didn’t receive that award.

          - Don’t let the amount of seals confuse you. Unfortunately many seals today are created just for the sake of impressing you without any guarantee behind it.

          Making Sense of Web Site Privacy and Security Seals

          2. Examine the Offer

          - Be wary of an extremely large number of a claimed user base – a company that truly sells to millions of users will rarely put it up on their web site.

          - Try to neglect the marketing messages and explore the sections explaining how the product actually works. Do you feel you get a good enough description of how it actually works? You don’t really need to completely understand what’s going on under the hood but does the company at least give you the chance to take a glance?

            3. Don’t Fall for Scare Tactics

            - Run the trial version or the free scan and get your custom diagnosis summary. Do you feel that the results may be exaggerated? Is the overall look and feel red and scary?  Now try to find a second PC, one that has no significant problems that you’re aware of. Download the same product to the second PC. The diagnosis should reflect a much better result. If you get the same results, don’t purchase the product.

              4. Make Sure There is a Real Company Behind the Web site

              - Call the company’s support phone number to see if it’s correct and working.

              - Check for signs that the company is still in business – Have they posted any recent news? Do they have a live blog?

                5. Check the Order Page’s Security Level

                - Pay attention to what’s called “hidden upsells” on top of the product price such as ‘Insurance Service’ or ‘Download Warrantee’. In most cases, these extras don’t make any sense. Be extra cautious if these “extras” don’t offer any detailed explanation of what they entail.

                - Make sure the page that asks for your credit card details is SSL secured (does the address start with ‘https: //’?) All other pages on the website may be unsecured (or start with ‘http://’) but not this page.

                  3 Ways to Protect Yourself from Identity Theft Online

                  More Info

                  The Better Business Bureau’s Top Ten Cyber Monday Tips for Staying Safe When Shopping Online

                  Rip-off Report’s 10 Things to Check to See if a Website is Real

                  The FBI’s Tips for Avoiding Internet Fraud

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