How to Spot a Fake Online Business

July 01, 2015

When you go to make a purchase, you’re likely to turn to the Internet, and like a good consumer, you do your research. You look for complaints, and customer reviews, but what if there’s nothing to find? It’s as if the company popped up overnight. How are you supposed to know if they’re legitimate or not?

If you come across an online business with no substantial online presence, know how to recognize the signs of a phony business.

Check out the company's links. 
Social media icons are a good place to start. For example, many scam websites will link to instead of If they do have social media accounts, consider how active they are, and if any of their followers have posted reviews or voiced complaints. How to Spot a Fake Online Business

What about images?
Look at the images on every page of the site and see if they are sized properly. Also look for any spelling, or grammatical errors. Legitimate businesses can make mistakes too, but if a website if full of them, it could be the sign of a scam.

Watch out for outlandish endorsements. Many fake companies will use phony endorsements to try to legitimize their product or services. They may even use a local media station, or sport a fake BBB Accreditation in attempt to gain your trust. If a company does make these claims, verify with the source directly.

Lookup the company’s address.
Find the business’s address and verify it online with Google or Apple Maps. Be sure the business isn’t located in an empty parking lot by calling nearby business to verify their location.

Can you find their privacy policy?
According to California law,businesses that collect a person's information are required to have a privacy policy that details what information they are collecting, what they will do with your information, and how it’s protected. This may include your name, physical address, email, and phone number. Learn more about privacy policies and how to protect yourself here.

Verify the company with your local BBB.
Before making a purchase, find the company’s rating, complaints, and customer reviews at Can’t find a particular company? Contact us on our Facebook page at, or by emailing us at