Holiday shoppers, prepare to be bombarded with social media ads — and scams. But how do you know which brands to trust? These five steps from NerdWallet will help you separate the gems from the fakes.

1 Search for independent reviews, complaints.

“Reviews on a company’s website can be cherry-picked, or worse, completely fabricated. So look for customer feedback on independent sites, like Trustpilot and Google My Business, and search for complaints on the Better Business Bureau’s scam tracker. You can also tap friends, family and your broader social network for insight. They’ve likely been served the same ads as you, and odds are good that someone pulled the trigger and can tell you if the product is as advertised. Not finding any reviews? Consider that a red flag.”

2 Research domain history.

“One clue to a business’s legitimacy is how long its website has been around. To find out when a website was created, simply plug the URL into the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers’ lookup tool. Sketchy companies pop up and disappear faster than the moles in the arcade game, creating a new domain name every time they resurface, so be wary of any sites created in the past year. Companies with an established web presence are more likely to be legitimate, but you’ll still want to check reviews and return policies.”


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