There’s a better way to save money while shopping online. Avoid these 5 pitfalls and learn about the safer alternative today:
It’s not hard to see why more than half of Americans prefer shopping online instead of at brick-and-mortar locations.
With discount sites boasting 50–75% off retail prices and websites offering promo codes to apply to your shopping cart, you can’t beat the selection, convenience, and savings of shopping online. But can these tempting discount sites be trusted? Are they really as safe and legitimate as they appear?
Unfortunately, discount sites are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to shopping securely online, so that answer is pretty hazy.
Today we’re going to show you 5 red flags to look out for — plus a much safer alternative for your online shopping — so you’ll never have to compromise your safety to save money again.
Just because you want to save money doesn’t mean you should have to sacrifice your privacy and online security to do so. To keep you safe, here are five red flags to look for when shopping online:
# 1: Fake Sites
Cheap knockoffs aren’t exclusive to the handbag industry. Now, knockoff URLs (the website address you see at the top of a website page) and imitation websites are popping up as well. These counterfeit companies are positioning themselves as the real thing to steal your secure information or sell you poorly-made fakes (or both!).
Take this company based out of China, for example. They’re using a similar URL (Pandorapicks.com) that’s so close to the real brand (Pandora.com). Without any official affiliation to Pandora, they’re deliberately trying to come across as a legitimate retailer. Because of these sites, many people fall victim to this bait and switch tactic.
They see a well-known brand name in the URL and get lured in with the steep discounts. The possibility and excitement of saving up to 75% distracts many buyers from realizing they’ve made a purchase from a phony site until it’s too late.
Avoid this trap: Whenever you’re making a purchase online, evaluate who you’re really buying from. Don’t assume you’re buying directly from the brand or company just because the brand name is in the URL.
Read the website’s About page and their policies to see if you can spot any typos, grammatical errors, or inconsistencies. These may indicate an overseas brand you're not familiar with. If anything sounds off, trust your instincts. Another common issue is trusting deals from sites you’ve never heard of altogether
#2: Deals from Unknown Sites
Unknown deal sites are just as risky as sites with similar-yet-fake brand name URLs. Deal sites give visitors enticing offers, but in order to get them, you must enter some personal information first. The problem is these sites are usually neither secure nor legitimate. So if you’re handing over sensitive information about yourself, you could be putting your online security in serious risk.
Everything from your name, birthday, to even handing over your email can be dangerous online. Compromising your identity isn’t worth saving a few bucks.
Avoid this trap: If you’ve never heard of the website offering the deal, or if the discount sounds way too good to be true, it probably is.
Before you enter any info, run a Google search to see how legitimate the site is. Check reviews from ConsumerReports.org and BBB.org to see what other customers have said about its trustworthiness. Any site that asks for too much info should also raise your suspicion, as we’ll cover next.
#3: Sites that Ask for Too Much Info
Just like handing over your email address may not seem like a big deal, you may not think twice about completing an online form in order to receive that appealing discount. Again, this is a huge mistake.
The more info you give hackers, the easier it is for them to wreak havoc on your online identity.
For example, it may seem harmless to give out your name and birthday with an online form, but quite the opposite is true. Hackers can use this unique information to do everything from crack your passwords to reset your credentials for your bank, email, and other online accounts.
And if they have your name, email, birthday, and a few other tidbits about you, hackers may have enough information to control your existing accounts and open new accounts in your name.
Avoid this trap: Before you enter any info in an online form — especially to receive a discount — evaluate the site’s legitimacy first.
On top of this, we’re also seeing an increase in discount retailers selling clothes for a fraction of the price you’d find in stores. Is this really possible or are they selling more than cheap fashion?
#4: Retailers with Prices Too Low to Be True
As you’re scrolling through your Facebook and Instagram feeds, you’re probably bombarded with ads for trendy outfits at unbelievable prices. Less than $10 USD for a holiday dress? Sounds like a steal, right?
If the “No Tricks and All Treats” messaging hasn’t given it away yet, sites advertising products with unbelievably low prices should be heeded with caution.
This Woman’s Day study found that sites like these:
Avoid this trap: Steer clear of the following sites and any that look/operate like them:
Despite their growing popularity, there are a few more well-known sites you should also be wary of using too.
#5: Flash Sale Sites Like Groupon, LivingSocial, HauteLook, and Gilt
Just because a site has a reputable name, doesn’t mean it’s any better. “Customers are not always getting the best deals – or even the real deal – on these websites,” according to Craig Crosby of Counterfeit Report.
Crosby says that when it comes to products on these discount sites, you never know if you're buying authentic merchandise, outlet-type quality, or an entirely different product from a different manufacturer or brand.
Second, those prices you’re seeing could also be inflated. You may find an item valued at $15.99, for example, at 50% off so you only pay around $8.00. However, the normal price of the item may only be $9.00, so in reality, you’re not saving 50%, you’re only saving just over 10%.
At that price, it’s not worth risking your safety or taking the chance of purchasing a knockoff product.
And finally, you may be better off calling the company direct to see if there’s a better deal, according to Crosby’s research.
In one case, Crosby found a ticket for a Go Kart race marked at $14, or 50% off the original price. But when he called the company direct (as opposed to the third party discount site), he learned that the daily rate was only $15.00 -- not $30 as the discounted site advertised.
So, once again, the savings don’t add up.
Avoid this trap: Instead of using these discount sites, you’re better off finding a safer, more efficient way to save money while still buying the things you need online.
By doing this, you can also guarantee you won't purchase a cheap fake that’s too costly to return. So what’s the safest way to shop online now that you know all the pitfalls to stay out of?
Let’s face it, most of us don’t have time to verify whether a site is legitimate or not. And we may not have enough experience spotting the red flags hackers are getting better at hiding. But that doesn’t mean you should give up altogether, sacrifice your safety, or pay full price for your online purchases either.
The good news is there’s a better, safer alternative: Joinesty.
On the surface, Joinesty may seem like another secure password manager to help you store all your passwords and login credentials in one convenient, safe place. So anytime you visit a website that requires you to login, Joinesty will automatically populate your credentials for you so you don’t have to remember or type them in each time.
This is where most password management tools stop. Joinesty wasn't happy with this minimum. On top of keeping your info safe, Joinesty also helps you find the best deals thanks to our Automatic Deal Finder.
With this tool, you simply click on the “View Deals” extension within Joinesty to see current discounts for the trustworthy sites you’re already using. This not only saves you time so you don’t have to scour the internet looking for deals, it also ensures you’re not buying into a scam or giving out your personal information unknowingly.
Get access to over 200,000 discounts on over 7,000 sites without spending a minute searching.But you can also find hassle-free deals using a Google search in conjunction with Joinesty. Just look for the Joinesty logo in your search results and you’ll know you’ll be able to save money.
Joinesty is the only password management solution that protects your email address too. Ever hesitate when asked to give out your personal email for that 20% savings?
Get that sign-up discount without giving out your personal email using the Joinesty patented email creation feature. Joinesty will create a unique email for every site you want to join or use so you never have to worry about your email address getting into the wrong hands.
Let the Joinesty deal finder create a more secure shopping experience for you, help protect your online identity, and secure your online accounts as you shop and discover savings.
The deals are out there — we’ll help you find them without the stress. In the age of internet insecurity, we’re the first step in taking back control of your online life.
Secure your accounts. Protect your privacy. Live better online. Instead of wasting time with discounted sites that may or may not be trustworthy, start your free 14-day trial of Joinesty today and we’ll make sure your information is safe while you save money.