How To Tell Whether a Shopify Store is Legit or a Scam

By Josh Koop •  Updated: 03/01/21 •  6 min read

When looking to make an online purchase, you are typically sent to the site from something like a Facebook ad, so how can you then tell if a Shopify store is legit or is it a scam waiting to happen?

Shopify itself is the provider of the service to house a store but do not carry the inventory nor fulfil the orders. To validate a store they should have contact details like email and phone number, clean looking site, and typically a large collection of buyer feedback.

This all being said, it is always possible to be scammed if they work hard enough to mask and cloak their true intents. This is why purchasing with your credit card is a better option as you can always charge back with them in the event of a scam.

Can You Get Scammed on Shopify?

As soon as you decide to shop online the possibility of being scammed increases dramatically due to the lack of face to face interaction. Humans read people well but also fail to read electronics anywhere near the same.

Due to this it is easier to be caught unaware and give money to someone who doesn’t plan to fulfill their side of the sale. Scams on Shopify happen but more frequently through scam domains like playing on the name to build your confidence.

Below I offer a variety of ways you can look into the site to see if it deserves your faith and if the purchase is real, note the most common tactic is to list something for a massive discount on a super limited timeframe.

When something is too good to be true it almost always is, make sure to do your due diligence prior to making online purchases to save yourself heartache.

Is Shopify Safe to Buy From?

Well then with all these scam shops existing is Shopify safe to buy from or am I putting myself and my cards in jeopardy? This is frequently why people end up in trouble

You want to ensure you choose a site with a lock (or SSL) in the top right of the address bar, then you should pay with a credit card where you have the ability to charge back if you should be targeted by a scammer.

As online shopping continues to skyrocket in the new pandemic age you will be making purchases online and 99% of them are perfectly safe, secure, and on the up and up.

Does Shopify Protect Buyers?

If you are looking to make a purchase from a Shopify store is there any provided protection for a shopper against being scammed by Shopify proper or not?

Only online orders processed through Shopify Payments are eligible for protection through Fraud Protect. Shopify Fraud Protect also doesn’t cover PayPal orders made on a shop.

These you will need to pay special attention to on the payments portal after you have already made the decision to make a purchase.

Best Ways To Identify Genuine Shops

There are some solid ways to investigate a site without needing some special powers, much of the straight forward ways to check I am aware of are listed below to help you out.

Contact Details

All legitimate stores should have a method to contact the owner of the store, sometimes this will be an email address, phone, address, or a mix of those details.

In many cases this will be in the footer of the website so you can check there for details and see where they list, choose then to contact them.

An interesting way to look at them is if three is an address provided is to open that address in Google and see what the streetview shows you, if it doesn’t look right then don’t make the purchase.

Customer Feedback

Another simple thing you can look at is the products listed on the site, do they have lots of reviews and are they more diverse than just 5 star “excellent” with no comments?

If they are just a bunch of blank star based reviews then I would be more cautious and look for additional items from the list here to ensure that they are a legitimate site.

Whois Lookup

This is a pretty simple check and may not yield much information but normally a large company that is reputable will have their business information public and available with contact details.

Though this can be hid by hosting packages and purchasing “domain protection” may make this useless as it is done to cut down on spam and normal mail that can happen with a public listing.

Website Encryption

You want to ensure the website is secure, this means that the data between you and the website itself is encrypted so there is less chance for someone to steal data in transmission.

This has become an industry standard for sites that don’t even allow or have purchasable items on their website, if you visit a site without the padlock then i would say not to make a purchase.

Certifications or Seals of Approval

For people who have been online to major retailers this would be the seals for business verification services like the BBB, or Better Business Bureau.

These can be added illegally to a site without proper validation and this means, like many items on this list, it is one thing that you should take time with and use as one of many signals to validate a store.

Google Safe Transparency Check

Thankfully Google has created a useful tool to quickly check if the shop or website you are visiting is possibly dangerous or unsafe. Of note that sometimes even legitimate sites can be comprised by hackers and not know.

You can visit the following link and enter the website you’re visiting to see if there are any issues with it:

Overall Look and Feel

When you visit the site how does it feel to you? Does it feel like someone has put some time and love into the the build of the site and does it inspire confidence in you.

Hopefully, like this site, the actual setup shows you that someone works hard to create an inviting place and space for visitors like yourself to learn and read.

Final Thoughts on How to Tell if a Shopify Store is Legit

Don’t get caught out purchasing from an illegitimate store if you can help it, take the time to scrutinize any shop where you plan to spend money online.

If you aren’t cautious you could end up in a world of pain fighting to get your money back, for many purchases online this could be a substantial amount of money that you wouldn’t want to lose out on.

Please comment if this was helpful or if you have other information I could add that would be of value to others to avoid being scammed!

Josh Koop

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