Do business with companies you already know. If the company is unfamiliar, do your homework before buying their products. If you decide to buy something from an unknown company, start out with an inexpensive order to learn if the company is trustworthy.
Reliable companies should advertise their physical business address and at least one phone number, either customer service or an order line. Call the phone number and ask questions to determine if the business is legitimate. Even if you call after hours, many companies have a “live” answering service, especially if they don’t want to miss orders. Ask how the merchant handles returned merchandise and complaints. Find out if it offers full refunds or only store credits.
You can also research a company in Internet yellow pages, through the Better Business Bureau (see listing below), or a government consumer protection agency like the district attorney’s office or the Attorney General. Perhaps friends or family members who live in the city listed can verify the validity of the company. Remember, anyone can create a Web site.