Frugal fashionistas know the best place to shop for unique products at bargain-basement steals is online, but often those deals can seem too good to be true.
Dig deep for a discount on that hot designer bag and odds are you'll find yourself on a sketchy website that sends off a major scam alert in your head. Get your deal and wear it too by shopping with financial safety in mind.
Certified secure checkout
We know you're an expert in adding things to your virtual cart, but when you finally go to check out, look in your URL bar. As you enter your credit card information, the beginning of the URL should say "https" — not simply "http." Hypertext transfer protocol, or http, is the language your web browser understands. Https adds a secure layer to the interaction between your browser and the website. For example, when you log into your online bank account, you'll see the same interaction in the URL bar because your computer is communicating strictly with the secure site. If the website you're shopping uses https, odds are it's legit, but not always.
Check the reviews
Reviews for online businesses are plastered all around the internet. If you're unsure of a site, simply type the name of the website into a search engine and add "reviews." For example, if you want to find reviews for Forever 21, type "Forever 21 reviews." Google, Yelp and more will pop up with user-submitted reviews, where you can read and gauge whether or not the deal is worth sacrificing your financial safety.
If the description of your item looks like it was written by a texting 14-year-old boy, odds are your website isn't legit. For example, if you're looking to buy a pair of heels that's sold out elsewhere, the description might read something like, "Sold out evrywhere!! Get ur hands onit NOW!!" Legitimate professional websites work tirelessly to make sure their copy reads clean. Typos, excessive punctuation and shorthand might be indicators that the person behind the website wrote it hastily, hoping someone would overlook their errors in their determination to purchase a sought-after item.
Look out for SEO scams
Here's a scenario: You type the item you're looking for into Google. A website pops up claiming it has what you're looking for — and it's priced at a discount! You click the site and the same words you searched keep popping up. For example, if you searched "vintage Pucci dress," the site will read something like "Buy a vintage Pucci dress here! This 100 percent authentic vintage Pucci dress looks great. Get your vintage Pucci dress today!" These websites are SEO, or search engine optimization, scams. They get to the top of Google by repeating key phrases like "vintage Pucci dress" in their copy. They monetize their websites by adding ads to the side, hoping people searching for a unique item will click on their page and give those ads views. Odds are these sites never had a vintage Pucci dress. They might even know who or what Pucci is!
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