How to make sure a company is legitimate

Written by ehow contributor
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When you consider doing business with a company, you want to know its track record and that you'll have recourse if there's a problem.

Skill level:

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  1. 1

    Find out if the company has a legitimate address and business phone number.

  2. 2

    Stay away from a business that uses a post office box as its corporate address and can only be reached by leaving a message on an answering machine or with a call-center operator.

  3. 3

    Find out if the company is registered with a major business directory such as Dun & Bradstreet ( or You can verify this information on the Internet.

  4. 4

    Find out if the company is licensed by the state.

  5. 5

    Ask if the company is a member of any professional association. You can verify its membership by contacting the organization directly.

  6. 6

    Look for TRUSTe certification on a Web-based business's home page. Other organizations also specialize in certifying, rating and reviewing Web-based businesses. View their sites for information.

  7. 7

    Check the company's complaint record with your local consumer affairs department or state attorney general.

Tips and warnings

  • Avoid businesses that solicit door-to-door, pressure you to make immediate decisions, or offer exceptionally good "deals" and long-term guarantees.
  • Rely on your intuition. If you sense some discomfort, walk away and find another merchant or service provider.

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