We get a lot of fake web store complaints here at Scambook. Learn how to protect yourself from shady websites.

10. The URL is suspect

Looking to cop from such illustrious outlets like “givenchy-gear-for-less.com” or “supreme-limitedproducts.com?” Think again. Most brands that offer e-commerce do so from their own trusted websites with simple URLs—or verified stores also with easy URLs, like barneys.com and karmaloop.com. Check the favicon in the browser too—it’s that little icon to the left of the URL. Does it look legit?

9. Website design looks like crap

Bad Website Design
If you’re a fan of a designer or brand, wouldn’t you expect them to hold their website standards to the same ones as their products? Do you really expect a dope brand is going to sell their stuff on an e-commerce platform with all the sophistication of a Geocities website? Many stores and brands know that e-commerce execution is as important as their retail displays, and spend tons of money perfecting the design of their sites to make sure they reflect the cachet of their brand.

8. Refund policy is totally unclear

100% satisfaction guaranteed huh? Yeah right. There will be no clear refund policy. While legit stores offer exchanges or refunds within 30 or so days (or sometimes, not even offer refunds if they’re total G’s), plenty of counterfeit sites will claim to offer some sort of return policy, but go completely radio silent when you try to actually utilize it. Also, any company who claims to refund your money if you haven’t received your product in a month isn’t worth doing business with in the first place.

7. Designs that don’t even exist are offered

Did you know Givenchy offers its most popular T-shirts in a variety of colors? You didn’t? Oh right, because they don’t. Shops that carry labels like Givenchy, like SSENSE, offer a full range of products every season, so you can see what actually came out to shops from the runway. Meanwhile, it’s not like you can look up a designer collection by lookbook or runway photos. This is an easy way of judging whether or not a shop is legit.

6. The brand selection makes no sense

Does a site’s brand list sound more like a random mix of popular names? When was the last time you saw Angry Birds T-shirts sharing retail space with Balmain jeans and Crooks&Castles? Probably never. Counterfeit sites thrive on confusing people who want what’s popular, not curating a retail experience for the discerning customer.

5. There is an obvious language barrier

Language Barrier
Sure, plenty of sites have language options, especially when you’re looking at places that cater to the European and Asian markets—but they don’t have as big of a language barrier that fake sites do. Remember the big mess Abercrombie & Fitch found themselves in when crappy translation software on a bootleg site stuck a racial epithet in the name of a color? Likewise, the product copy sounds straight off of Engrish.com. Anything that horribly speaks to the strength of the brand more than the specific product is cause for alarm.

4. Shady contact info

Whoa, whoa… the customer service e-mail is a Hotmail account? The customer service phone number is international? Check please. This site is definitely not legit.

3. They have very unlikely items

Oh really, this place has a store-exclusive item that sold out within minutes? And it has it for cheap? If it seems too good to be true, it is. If you want limited-edition goods like Supreme x North Face collaborations, you’ll have to pay up the wazoo on the aftermarket at sites like eBay and forums.

2. Prices are too good to be true

Even when designer gear goes on sale, it’s still not cheap. 80% off $500 is still $100. So when you see clothing you know goes for beaucoup bucks suddenly drop to Old Navy-like prices, chances are something’s up. Also, websites generally are more expensive that in-store sales, for the express purpose that the latter serves to get unwanted things out of brick-and-mortar spaces to make room for newer stuff. Take that into account before you pull that virtual trigger.

1. Check the WHOIS

Check the WHOIS
Perhaps the most damning evidence of a counterfeit site is going to WHOIS.net and typing in the URL. It’ll then show you an e-mail associated with the account, and where the site is purportedly located. Check the technical and administrative contacts—do they match up too? Does it seem like there is a dedicated team of professionals solely dedicated to protecting this brand’s space on the Internet? If it’s in an obscure part of China or in a place that’s totally not in line with where the brand is based, it’s probably not legit.

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