How can you tell if a company is genuine?
At Compare Holiday Money we quite often get emails from people that are worried that some of the companies we list, or the websites we direct them to are not genuine and asking us for reassurance: That is perfectly understandable.
After all, some of the suppliers that are on our listings would not be household names to a lot of people and these can sometimes be the ones that are offering the best deals. If you are going to be parting with several hundreds or maybe thousands of pounds for foreign currency you want to be sure the company you deal with is genuine and not about to scam you.
Firstly, we do our homework before we list any company. They have to provide us with information about themselves, their business, their training and complaints procedures and any registrations with governing bodies. We also make checks with companies house and any relevant organisations ourselves and this continues for as long as the supplier is listing with us.
It’s easy to do your own checks as well if you want to, especially if it’s not a big brand name like The Post Office or Tesco and particularly if you are using a company for the first time. Here are some of the ways in which you can tell if a company is genuine.
All companies are registered with Companies House and you can find their details including registered head office address, directors, key staff and account history on the UK Government website. This should be your first way to find out if the company is genuine.
Businesses that just provide foreign exchange do not have to be registered with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) which is a common misconception. However, if they carry out other financial activities like money transfers, loans or credit cards then they do. If a business is registered with the FCA they should include their registration number on their website and you can check this against the register, and get lots more information besides on the FCA website. If the company you are looking at only offers currency exchange then don’t be surprised if they’re not registered with the FCA this doesn’t mean they are not genuine.
Another way of telling if a company is genuine is to look at it’s reviews. We set up a review page for every business that lists with Compare Holiday Money so that users can leave a summary of their experience. If a company has none or very little reviews it doesn’t mean they are no good or they don’t really exist, it’s probably because they are new. Even the best suppliers will sometimes get a bad review and this is quite normal. We would always encourage potential customers to read through the reviews and you can filter out the reviews by rating as well. We would also encourage you to leave reviews of your experience with companies as it really helps people to make an informed decision.
Yes, ‘Google’ the company – or Bing or Yahoo or any other search engine, may flag up any problems or issues that have been associated with that company. It is one of the ongoing checks that we make and it may highlight anything, like local news stories about them for example that may not come to light from other checks.
What is their website like? There is no excuse these days to have a poor website. There are many cost effective ways in which any business from your local plumber or beauty therapist upwards can have a professional looking website. If a foreign exchange, or any other business wants you to trust them and hand over loads of money then the least they can do is have a professional website.
Apart from the obvious design and the way it looks think about these things:
- Is the text well written, are there lots of spelling mistakes or errors in the grammar?
- Does all the text make sense?
- Does the address in the address bar start with HTTPS?
- When you get to the payment page is there a padlock in the address bar next to the name?
- Can you find contact details easily on the website. This is important in case you do need to contact them for any reason about your order.
You can see that apart from our own company checks you can quite easily make some checks of your own to help you make a decision. And of course these checks are not just for Foreign Exchange companies but any other type of company, especially when it comes to handing them money.
All the checks in the world however, will not stop a company from running into trouble or becoming insolvent and sometimes these things happen out of the blue. Despite all the checks and however big the brand, one final question you should ask yourself is what happens if things do go wrong? And in the world of online shopping how you pay for your goods whether its currency, holidays or even a new pair of shoes becomes as important as ever.