For as long as there have been high quality and expensive Italian wines, there have been people who want to make a quick buck by scamming wine lovers.
It’s a tale as old as the Italian wine industry itself. In fact, it’s still common to hear reports of police raiding fraudulent winemakers who are attempting to get rich quick off the back of someone else’s hard work. It’s such a major issue in the industry that most countries have special governing bodies in place to combat it.
It’s also a major issue for you. Beyond the monetary losses that come with buying a fake bottle of wine, there’s also the more practical dangers that they present. Wine scammers aren’t concerned about your health, which means they’re likely to use all sorts of strange and unapproved chemicals. These could have serious ramifications for your health.
The existence of wine scammers also makes a lot of people wary about buying wine online. It’s no surprise. The web is the ideal place for scammers to operate because they can remain anonymous.
That brings us to the question we’ll cover in today’s article.
How do you avoid the online wine scammers?
Here are a few tips.
Tip #1 – Look for the https://
If you check the top of your browser, you’ll see the Xtrawine URL.
Check the start of the URL. Notice how it says https://? That tells you that our website uses a secured version of the Hypertext Protocols that govern the web.
It’s the “s” that’s the most important thing here. Every website starts with http://. That just tells you that it’s a website. The “s” is what tells you that you’re on a secure site. The “s” shows you that the site uses secure payment methods and has taken steps to encrypt the data that you send to it.
And that brings us to our first tip. Avoid any website that wants to take personal data from you but doesn’t use the https:// protocol. The lack of an “s” means that you’re sending your data over unencrypted channels, which means that anybody could get their hands on it. Even if the website itself isn’t a scam, it’s leaving you open to malicious people who may want to get their hands on your data. If they manage to get hold of your payment information, you could lose a lot of money.
Most wine scammers don’t make the effort to use the https:// protocol. Check the URL, especially when you’re entering payment information. If it doesn’t have the https://, you have to leave.
Tip #2 – Research the Company
There are all sorts of reasons why you may buy wine. Most people buy so that they have something to drink, but there are plenty of people who purchase wines as an investment too.
This latter group are extremely prone to scammers. There’s a lot of money to be made by selling fake investment wines. Scam artists take advantage of people’s assumptions to earn thousands.
Here’s a simple tip that not enough people do. If you’re considering buying from a site that you’ve never used before, taking a step back and start doing some research. Check online to see what other people have to say about the website. There are plenty if review aggregators out there. If none of them contain any information about the site you’re thinking about buying from, you may have discovered a scam.
Tip #3 – Check for Contact Information
This is another common check that a lot of people fail to carry out before making a purchase.
Any legitimate vendor will provide you with several ways to contact them. At the minimum, you should be able to find a registered business address and an email address. A phone number is another good trust indicator. All of these things tell you that you’re dealing with a real business, which makes it less likely that you’ll get scammed.
Don’t assume that a contact form is enough. That form could go anywhere. Look for hard information about where the business is based and how you can contact it outside of the website itself.
If you check the Xtrawine website, you’ll see a phone number in the site header, several numbers and an address in the footer, and more details on our Contact page.
Tip #4 – Check the Realism of Claims
Again, this is a tip that’s more relevant to wine investors than general consumers.
A little research is always your friend when you’re making a purchase. Some websites will make wild claims about the value of their wines in order to get you to buy. Even if the wine’s legitimate, the information the site shares may not be.
It’s best to check several sources before making an investment purchase. Figure out what the common consensus is for the bottle of wine and avoid any websites that make extraordinary claims.
Tip #5 – Go to the Source
Legitimate winemakers keep records of all of the vendors and merchants that they work with. This means you have a great source of information.
To find out if a wine’s legitimate, just go to the source. Contact the producer to confirm that they have a working relationship with the site in question or one of its subsidiaries. They’ll usually be happy to help you, especially because you may end up providing them with information about people who are selling their wines illegitimately.
The Final Word
We know that it can be a little scary to buy Italian wines online. With so many scam artists out there, it’s sometimes tempting to avoid buying online altogether.
But you don’t have to do that. Remember that the web offers you access to all sorts of wines that you wouldn’t get elsewhere. As long as you follow the above tips, you should be able to confirm that a website is legitimate.
And if you have any doubts at all, avoid buying from the site. Reputation is everything in the wine industry, so only buy from sites that can prove their validity.
I’m a passionate about good wine and good cooking.
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