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Many online businesses get assailed by web marketing companies. Mark Dirks has written a series of blog posts about this
bombardment called Web Marketing Pollution.
Below are some further questions you can ask and online tools to help you determine if an online company is on the up and up.
- For U.S. companies, check for a Corporate filing with your Secretary of State.
- Does the company have a legitimate address?
- Does the company have a published phone number listed that they can be reached at?
Check the phone number using a reverse lookup at 411.com. Check to see if the phone number is unpublished or not. An unpublished number can raise a red flag.
- When was the website created? How long in business has the company been around?
Check the company’s domain at www.whois.domaintools.com. At whois.domaintools.com, you can see the creation date of a website and get lots of great info. If dates are very recent or don’t match with what is posted, a red flag is raised.
- Does the website have a past history that is in conflict with today’s information?
See if a previous version of the website exists at the Internet Archive WayBack Machine. Check past information on the website for anything that may have changed
- Does the company list a portfolio for a source of references?
Check the websites referred to and see if information can be verified by a third party.
The online tools I have listed above should help you determine whether or not an online business is legitimate.