Shopping for medicines online has now become a trend among consumers—we can’t keep consumers from patronizing online drugstores due to their good prices, accessibility, and the wide range of choices for the medicines. However, despite the availability of most online drugstores, not all of them can be trusted to deliver.
An online drugstore
Although there are a lot of trustworthy online pharmacies, there are still rip-off drugstores that intend to steal from consumers. They mimic the appearance of good online drugstores and even copy their content so buyers assume they are dealing with legit stores instead of fake ones.
To avoid the confusion, we’ve come up with a few guidelines to help you decide which stores to patronize and which ones to scratch from your list of prospective online drugstores.
Some Guidelines in Looking for a Legitimate Online Drugstore
It is often difficult to identify which shops are good to use and which ones are utterly fake, that’s why customers should be knowledgeable on the traits that distinguish the good stores from the bad ones. Here are some things you need to look for in an online pharmacy to call it legitimate:
- Reviews. One of the main things to look for in an online drugstore is the presence of reviews for its service. Reviews reveal the nature of the online drugstore from the perspective of the consumers.
Customers have to beware of fake reviews though as some nefarious online operators often compose fake buyer testimonials to allure consumers and encourage them to purchase. Although some shops have reliable on-site reviews with the help of third-party service providers, buyers still have to discern if the comments for one particular online drugstore are real or are fabricated.
To view more reliable reviews, consumers should consider looking at forum websites or third-party review sites instead, where only real consumers with verified reviews are allowed to post their opinions of a particular drugstore. For added reliability, consumers should consider looking at reviews from authority sites and reliable review platforms instead of shady unknown review websites.
- Length of operation. Customers should also look for websites that have been operating for long. Most legitimate online pharmacies have been operating for years, while fake sites usually last for only 365 days. There are no clues on why illegitimate online drugstores only last for less than a year, but good sites usually last for long.
However, although the length of operations is a good marker of reliability, consumers should still consider other factors about an online shop like reviews, responsiveness, and others.
- Good response. Another good marker of a store’s reliability is its responsiveness to inquiries. You can test a shop’s responsiveness by calling the shop’s numbers, sending an email to its address, or trying out its live chat support.
Testing a shop’s responsiveness also allows the consumers to verify if the contact details of an online pharmacy are correct. The details of a store are incorrect, then the shop is most likely illegal or a farce.
- Reasonable prices. Apart from the verifications mentioned above, you can also check the legitimacy of a store by looking at the prices on the shop. The store should have realistic prices—the drug prices should not be too steep or impossibly low. Scam sites are known to bait the consumers by offering deals that are almost impossible to pass up, so consumers should be sensible enough to discern if the deals are real or not.
This list is not exhaustive of the characteristics of a legitimate online pharmacy. If you’re shopping for medicines online, rely on your gut in making choices—if something feels off or fishy about a site, make sure to stay away from it.
What can happen if you don’t verify the legitimacy of an online drugstore?
There are plenty of negative things you can expect from failing to verify and online drugstore before using it. Here are some of the problems you can encounter if you shop from an illegitimate store:
- You can get scammed. You can pay for your item and never receive anything from the store. Worse, some illicit online pharmacies not only want your money but your details as well, so they can use your financial details to steal money from you or use your credit card details for their personal gain.
- You can get fake products. Besides getting scammed, you can be sent ineffective medicines (placebo) that could not help you improve your medical condition. What’s worse is that you can also be sent the following products:
- Medicines that have little or more active ingredients than usual – Some scammers send medicines that have varying amounts of active ingredient than advertised. If you receive a drug with less of the active ingredient amount, it’s okay, but if you were sent medicines with more of the active content as advertised, you can get sicker or die of an overdose.
- Medicines that contain different active ingredients – Scammers may also send you medicines with hidden active ingredients—some may advertise they are selling herbal products but end up sending you a drug with secret active ingredients. In some cases, you can also be sent medicines with the wrong active contents.
- Contaminated products – Besides the medicines above, you may also be given products contaminated with other chemicals, body parts, wastes, and chemicals that may affect your health.
- Your PC may get hacked. Apart from all of the ones mentioned above, some illicit sites can infect your PC or laptop and steal or delete all your data.
It is important to keep safe whenever transacting online, that’s why verifying online pharmacies is imperative whenever shopping for medicines online. Since there is a surplus of online drugstores on the web, you need to be careful in choosing which sites are good to use and which ones are not. Not only will you be staying out of harm’s way, you’ll also be safeguarding your health by using only legit sites.