How to Know If an Internet Store is Legitimate

An Internet store, also called an ecommerce store, is any website that sells a product or service online. You'll have to enter a credit-card number and other personal information to order something from an Internet store--so before you do business with one, it is wise to do a few checks to assure that it is legitimate. This will help you avoid unnecessary issues, like disputes with unscrupulous sellers.

Step

Check the website's date of creation. You can find this information on InterNIC's database (see Resources). If it's been up and running for only a week to a month, you may want to reconsider purchasing something from this particular Internet store.

Step

Find out what service the website uses to accept payments. If it's an established service like PayPal or Authorize credit-card acceptance service, then you can feel reasonably sure that you can dispute your order and get your money back if necessary. If the Internet store accepts payments from a standard web form that doesn't identify the payment service, you may want to pass or investigate the website further. Dot not enter your credit-card information on an unsecured web page (no https:// in the URL address)--that is a clear sign the website may not be legitimate.

Step

Check Better Business Bureau records to find out if the Internet store is legitimate (see Resources). Select the "Phone, URL, Email" tab and type in the web store's URL to perform a search. Check the BBB rating score and business reliability data to determine the legitimacy of the web store.

Step

Purchase and download a firewall and anti-virus software program that maintains site reports on various websites online (like McAfee's Site Advisor). The site report will tell you if the website is safe or a risk to your computer. The site report icon will commonly display in a corner or the toolbar of your browser. Visit the Internet store and click the site report icon to review the status of the website and make sure it's legitimate.