The internet is the last frontier on earth. It’s a fairly lawless place compared to the rest of society.
And with lawlessness comes the scammers and hustlers.
Especially in the pharmacy business, it’s hard to tell the scammers from the real deal sometimes.
The scammers have gotten pretty good at imitating legitimate online storefronts, and thousands of people have suffered because of the fake drug epidemic all over the world.
In 2013, 8,000 people died in a remote Himalayan hospital because they were given post surgery antibiotics that had no active ingredient.
But the scammers aren’t just in third world countries.
They’re posing as online pharmacies in Canada and other well-regulated countries.
Fortunately, there are ways to tell if an online pharmacy is legitimate or not. And in the next few paragraphs, we’re going to tell you about a few things to look out for.
1. Beware the Online Pharmacy Super-bargain
If it’s too good to be true…
One way online pharmacy scammers catch people in their nets is by offering an irresistible bargain.
Unless the drugs are stolen or the drug prices are insurance compensated, they won’t be dirt cheap.
Rock bottom bargain drug prices is a sure sign the online pharmacy is trying to sell fake drugs.
And even if the drugs have some of the active ingredients, they will be subgrade and cut with other fillers to reduce cost.
2. Not a .pharmacy Extension
While getting a .com or .ca domain name extension isn’t expensive or difficult, these extensions offer more competition.
Illegitimate websites and black hat companies will choose catchy extensions like .biz. These domain names have less competition and are generally cheaper.
But .biz is also something most legitimate businesses avoid. It gives off the wrong impression to customers.
If the online pharmacy uses a .pharmacy domain name extension, you’re good.
Only safe pharmacies and up to code pharmacies are allowed to register a .pharmacy domain name.
3. Is It Sealed?
The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy and other legitimizing agencies place a specific seal on legitimate and board certified online pharmacies.
An online pharmacy is legitimate that has the PharmacyChecker seal along with the Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites seal, the Canadian International Pharmacy Association seal, the Internet Mail-Order Pharmacy Accreditation Commission seal, the Manitoba International Pharmacists Association seal, or the National Community Pharmacists Association seal.
But if they don’t have one of these seals on their website, find another online pharmacy. You want one that’s been screened and approved by the NABP or other such agencies.
4. Be Careful With Pharmacies Outside the United States and Canada
The internet is difficult to regulate. You can use online pharmacies located in other countries.
Canada has plenty of legitimate online pharmacies and some Americans do choose to get their drugs from there.
But, in some other countries, it’s easier to set up a scam marketplace.
You’re better off looking for American Board certified online pharmacies and Canadian Board certified pharmacies. And while prices might be cheaper over the border, you have to factor shipping into your cost.
If you’re unsure as to whether an online pharmacy is licensed in the United States or Canada, you can search online databases readily available to the consumer.
5. Make Sure They Have a Real Pharmacist
If you can’t get ahold of a real pharmacist, the pharmacy is a lie.
Real online pharmacies have a physical location from which they operate. They don’t have to use a physical store front, but you should be able to find an address and a phone number on their website. And when you call this pharmacy, you should find a real pharmacist somewhere on the other end of the phone.
How do you tell if a pharmacist is real? They had to graduate from Pharmacy school somewhere, right?
Ask where their alma matter is and ask about their license to dispense drugs. It might take a little bit of research, but you can find out where they graduated from and got their diploma from.
6. They Follow HIPPA Rules
Your privacy is important. And there are laws in the United States designed to protect your privacy.
If the pharmacy shares your private medical information with anybody other than your doctor or you without your consent, they aren’t following HIPPA rules. They are breaking the law.
And if they are breaking this law, then you should wonder what other laws the might be breaking.
You won’t be safe if you decide to order from a pharmacy that violates your privacy rights.
7. “Prescription-Free” Is a Lie
If you’re taking a controlled medication, prescriptions are a pain.
Depending on your state laws, your doctor might require you to come in every month to get your prescription. This gets very expensive.
So, when a prescription-free drug fill promise comes along, it’s very a very tempting option. But it’s really not an option at all.
If they don’t ask for a prescription and you accept, you’re putting yourself at risk. Even if they are a legitimate pharmacy, they won’t have a written prescription to go by. And if they don’t have a written prescription to go by, then they could fill the wrong medication.
If they offer a “prescription-free” service, don’t order anything from them. They aren’t a real online pharmacy and they’re doing illegal things.
8. They Shouldn’t Ask for Personal Information Beyond the Prescription
Don’t give away your Social Security Number or your personal medical history.
They don’t need either of those things to fill a prescription. This is a sure sign you’re dealing with a scam artist.
And if you’re going to pay with a credit card, make sure they’re using a secure app to charge you. If they aren’t using VeriSign, PayPal or other reputable pay services, don’t give them your credit card info.
If you don’t notice a secure method for payment, try to call them to see if you can use a secure method. They might refuse. If they do, find another online pharmacy.
Compare Drug Prices and Do Your Homework
While governments try to protect consumers, it’s up to you to protect yourself from getting scammed.
Do your homework and research every online pharmacy you purchase from.
And if you want the best deals, try out our drug price comparison guides.