Complete press release in german language
- Extract from the press release -
Real or not?
With the Fakeshop-Finder, Verbraucherzentrale NRW offers a new, free tool for a quick check of online shops.
Goods ordered online but never delivered? Instead, you suddenly get strange charges on your credit card? Fake shops, i.e. dubious online traders, are often difficult for consumers to recognise and can quickly become an expensive trap when shopping on the Internet. The NRW Consumer Advice Centre therefore now offers a new online application with which you can check a shop for authenticity before placing an order. The free Fakeshop-Finder checks whether an online shop shows typical characteristics of a dubious supplier. Anyone considering ordering something online can simply enter the internet address of the shop at www.fakeshop-finder.nrw and receive an assessment within a few seconds.
"Fake shops are one of the major, enduring problems in everyday consumer life and the number of complaints is steadily increasing," says Wolfgang Schuldzinski, head of the NRW Consumer Advice Centre. "In 2020, around 1,000 consumer complaints about fakeshops were recorded in the consumer centres, in 2021, the number tripled to almost 3,000. With the Fakeshop Finder, we offer quick orientation when shopping online so that fewer people fall into the trap of dubious providers in the future."
How does the Fakeshop-Finder work?
Using artificial intelligence, the Fakeshop-Finder constantly searches specifically for fakeshops on the internet. The backbone of the Fakeshop-Finder is a growing domain database. If consumers enter an address that is not yet in the database, the Fakeshop-Finder searches for the address entered and scans the page for features that are very often found in dubious shops. These can be a missing imprint, a VAT ID that does not exist, but also technical, linguistic and structural features that are not visible to the naked eye. The Fakeshop-Finder also knows public lists of known fake shops.
From these criteria, the application calculates the probability of whether the address entered is a dubious provider. After a few seconds, the result is displayed in the form of a traffic light: Red if there is a clear warning, yellow as a hint to take a closer look before ordering, and green if everything is fine. The project is financed by the Ministry of Agriculture and Consumer Protection of North Rhine-Westphalia.