Help! A fake online shop is misusing my name
- How to
- 2 February 2021
- Edited 27 June 2023
- 2 min
- Managing and growing
- Secure business
Angry customers and suppliers call you because they have not received their order – but you do not know anything about it. This is what you can do if your company name is being misused.
The Fraud Helpdesk received 4,243 reports of fake online shops in 2020. That is almost twice as many as in 2019, when there were 2,361 such reports. If a scammer uses your company name for a fake website, it may have quite an impact on your business.
This is how it works
Here is how fake online shops work: a scammer starts a fake online shop under your company name, and claims to sell products such as facemasks, cleaning products, or energy drinks. A customer buys something, the scammer does not deliver, and you get angry calls because the scammer has used your company name.
Damage to your company’s image
Fake online shops are a real problem. Not only for customers, who are unlikely to get their money back, but for the owners of businesses whose names are misused, and who are also impacted by kind of online shop fraud. It damages their image, wastes time, and causes headaches.
The Netherlands Chamber of Commerce adviser Jacob van der Vis sees a rise in the number of business owners who experience this kind of misuse: “For example, a business owner knocked on my door because he was suddenly getting calls from abroad about undelivered goods, even though he has a service business and sells nothing online. It turned out his company name was being used by a fake online shop to scam people. And he is not the only one.”
Almost the same URL
Even if you own an online shop under your company name, you may be impacted by fraudsters who misuse your name for a fake online shop. A scammer opens an online shop with a web address similar to yours. This happened, for example, at BCC, an electronics shop. The scammers started online (in Dutch) under names like BCC.deal.nl and BCC.amsterdam.nl. Police are warning consumers by disclosing the names of (in Dutch).
“Some scammers even buy ads, so they can appear higher up in search-engine listings with their fake online shop than your real one”, Van der Vis says. As a result, your customer unknowingly orders products through the fake website. When the customer does not get the order, you seem to be the culprit.
Prevention is difficult
Unfortunately, it is tough to prevent misuse of your company name. There are, however, two ways to make this less likely:
- Set up a Google Alert. For example, you will be automatically notified when your company name is mentioned on the internet. That way, if someone creates a site with your name, you will see it immediately.
- Register all your websites with KVK. That way, everyone can see which sites belong to your company and what you sell.
Have you been the victim of this kind of scam?
Is your company name being misused by a fake online shop? Here are two things you can do:
- Check to see who runs the site. Then ask the administrator of the domain name to take the site offline. To do this, follow the steps in the notice-and-take-down .
- Misuse of your company name falls under business identity fraud and is a criminal offence. File a report with the police. Your declaration allows the registrar of the domain name to take the website offline.