How to Spot a Webhosting Scam

Unfortunately, there are many web hosting companies that are not honest businesses. Web hosting is a lucrative business and there are many sharks in the waters trying to make a buck off of unsuspecting customers and leaving these customers high and dry when it really matters.

One of the most common schemes is offering an unbelievable price for an incredibly robust set of features, taking money for an account and then never responding or providing log-in information for this new account. These accounts will typically be available for purchase at a yearly rate, and will usually have a set-up fee. This means that you’ll be paying a year in advance for a server you may never be able to use. Unless your credit card company allows you to contest a charge, you will have learned a painful and possibly expensive lesson.

However, there are ways to tell if the web hosting company is a legitimate company before purchasing your hosting package. Here are some important things to remember and use before you hit the “buy” button.

Does the host use Verisign or have a BBB seal visible on their site? Most reputable hosting companies will go out of their way to provide you with peace of mind before purchasing an account. If you can’t find anything reassuring on a web site about a company’s business practices, try looking at some different hosts before jumping.

Is the price too good to be true? If you are looking at a hosting package that offers an incredible amount of space, transfer and features for a $1 a month, there might be some cause for suspicion. This is not to say that all budget hosts are crooks, but this should send up some alarm bells, especially if the host does not offer ways of contacting them or proof that they are a legitimate business.

Is the host’s contact information easy to find? You shouldn’t have to spend 20 minutes searching for a contact form or an email address. If this is buried or nonexistent on a business’ site, chances are they don’t want you to find this information, which is definitely cause for suspicion on your part. A host that cannot be contacted is not a host that will be able to provide you with the customer support you should have.

Have other people had problems with this host? One of the best things about search engines is the ability to quickly research a hosting company before spending any money. Try searching for a hosting company’s name to see if anyone else has experienced problems. If someone has been burned by a company, chances are they will post something about it somewhere on the Internet.

These are general guidelines that you can use while you are finding the right host. If a host has some of the above problems, that may not mean that they are scam artists. If you are not sure, try contacting them before you make your purchase to ensure that they are legitimate. A good company won’t mind easing your fears.

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Posted on 12/14/05 10:04 PM

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