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Identify fraudulent and problematic online shops yourself

If you are not familiar with an online shop, you should play it safe and take a closer look yourself, because fraudulent online shops sometimes appear reputable at first glance, but deliver only low-quality goods or none at all. Money you pay in advance cannot be reclaimed, your data could be misused and complaints are difficult or impossible.

Please note that online shops outside Europe may incur customs duties, taxes and high shipping costs for returns. This currently applies to low-cost suppliers and dubious drop shippers.

Problems can also occur at some marketplaces. Learn more about safe shopping at marketplaces here.

The most important warning signals

Once you have paid, the money is gone - that's why it's important to recognise fraudulent shops before you order. You should pay attention to these three warning signals: 

1. an internet search for the shop shows bad or no reviews

What experiences have others had? Search for the shop using the keywords "experience", "review", "rating" or "fake". Note: Sometimes entries are written by the shop owners themselves or on their behalf.

2. many payment options indicated, but only payment in advance works

Are numerous payment options mentioned on the start page, but at the end only prepayment by bank transfer is possible? Hands off! This is an indication of a fake shop. Once you have ordered, you will not receive any goods and a return transfer is no longer possible.

3. conspicuously low prices and missing or contradictory information

If the prices are surprisingly low, there is no information about the trader, no imprint or no terms and conditions, be careful. Make sure that the web address matches the shop name. Brand counterfeiters often take over abandoned domains for a good ranking.

Have you come across a dubious online shop?

Please inform our colleagues on the Watchlist Internet using the report form! You can find more information on recognising fake shops and brand counterfeiters on the Watchlist Internet.

Watchlist Internet

Are you having problems with an online order?

The Internet Ombudsman's Office helps you free of charge with disputes on the Internet and answers your legal questions. It is a state-recognised consumer arbitration board under the Alternative Dispute Resolution Act.

Internet Ombudsstelle