Check Company Legitimacy

11/06/2010

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Certified organisations often display their ISO status on their websites. Unfortunately, once online these logos can easily be copied and used inappropriately.

To help you determine fact from fiction, we’ve created a buyer’s guide to help you verify whether an organisation is legitimate or not.

We’re often asked to verify whether a particular organisation has been certified by us. We’re happy to do this and legitimate certification should rightly provide a buyer with peace of mind that an organisation is fit for purpose.

Occasionally a organisation will display our ISO certification mark in error and such cases are usually dealt with promptly and amicably. Unfortunately, there are a few occasions when organisations fraudulently display our certification mark to fool would-be buyers into trusting them.


Checking a company’s ISO status

So what can you do if you have doubts about a particular organisation or you just want to undertake a final reassuring check?

Most ISO certification logos should reveal the Certification Body who issued said logo. As such, it is a case of then searching for the Certification Body and contacting them to verify. You can search for Certification Bodies by visiting the UKAS website, who are appointed by government to oversee Certification Bodies in the UK.

Knowing the company name should be enough to verify their status. Sometimes, the logo will also have a PIN or certification number underneath to help further.

Checking company legitimacy

Expensive looking websites can be set up all too easily and it’s relatively easy to create a professional looking website that seems trustworthy. Therefore, before engaging with an online business it’s prudent to make a number of simple checks.

Review the Website

When viewing a website, ensure there are ‘About’ and ‘Contact’ pages. For any business selling online in the UK, it is a requirement of law to provide registered company contact details, so check that this information is provided. Be sceptical if there is no phone number either and ideally, speak to a representative on the phone before proceeding.

You can also tell if a website has been recently registered by completing a simple ‘WHOIS’ domain check. The UK’s domain registrar is Nominet, which has a WHOIS lookup service on its website.

Verify the Company

Of course, it’s important to match up the website’s company name and registered address with the records on Companies House (UK only). Helpfully, Companies House operates a free Web Check service so you can easily check lots of information about a registered company, including when it was formed.

Review the Company

Search engines like Google can also help uncover lots of useful information about a website. Try searching for reviews about the company – you may even uncover previous warnings from disgruntled customers or from the authorities. If the website itself lists testimonials, check to see if the clients named actually exist and if so try contacting them.

Verify Endorsements

Companies will often list certain standards or awards they have achieved. If true, they will be easy to verify and once again, it’s worth taking the time to follow your checks through to be sure it isn’t just made up to snare you.

Trading Standards

Finally, you can check if a company has already had complaints about it recorded by contacting Trading Standards or Advice Guide. If you are unfortunate enough to have been duped by a bogus company, either online or not, these Government backed bodies are well worth contacting. Remember, informing the authorities could potentially help others too.

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