Saturday, 01 December 2018 15:35

How to Spot a Fake or Scam Website

Author:  [This article is originally published in asecurelife.com written by Kate Herrick]

[This article is originally published in asecurelife.com written by Kate Herrick - Uploaded by AIRS Member: Jeremy Frink]

It’s that time of year when eager shoppers start looking for promising Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals to kick off holiday shopping. Unfortunately, hackers, scammers, and identity thieves are gearing up for the flood of online shoppers too.

Shopping on a fake website could result in your personal or financial information being stolen or your device becoming infected with a virus or malware. Knowing how to spot red flags is crucial but simple once you know what to look for. We’ve got tips, tricks, and tools for checking a website’s legitimacy below.

Step #1: Pay attention to the address bar

The first thing you want to look for on a website is the https:// at the beginning of the address. The S in https:// stands for secure and indicates that the website uses encryption to transfer data, protecting it from hackers.

If a website uses http:// (no S), that doesn’t guarantee that a website is a scam, but it’s something to watch for. To be on the safe side, you should never enter personal information into a site beginning with http://.

Some internet browsers, like Google Chrome, lend a hand in warning you about unsecured websites. When a site is secure, you may see a small padlock next to the web address, or the address may be highlighted in green. You might also notice the domain name next to the padlock before the https://. That means the website has one of the highest levels of encryption and can be trusted.

Example of a Secure URL: HTTPS

Some browsers highlight unsecured web addresses in red or simply say “Not secure.”

Not Secure URL Example

If you’re unsure, you can click on the padlock or “Not secure” notice to see more details about the website’s security. You can also check up on a site through Google’s safe site search. The presence of the https:// doesn’t guarantee security, but it’s a good starting point.

Step #2: Check the domain name

A favorite trick of scammers is to create websites with addresses that mimic those of large brands or companies, like Yah00.com or Amaz0n.net. Scammers count on you skimming over the address and domain name, so it’s always worth double-checking the address bar if you’re redirected to a website from another page.

Step #3: Look up the domain age

Scammers know that more people will be shopping online during the holidays than usual, so they put together real-looking websites very quickly around those times. By checking the domain age, you can see how long the website has been in business, giving you a better sense of its veracity.

The Whois Lookup domain tracker gives you information about who a domain name is registered to, where they are, and how long the website has been active.

Whois Domain Lookup Website

Step #4: Watch for poor grammar and spelling

An excess of spelling, punctuation, capitalization, and grammar mistakes could indicate that a website went up quickly. Companies with legitimate websites may certainly have the occasional typo but still, put effort into presenting a professional website. If a website capitalizes every other word or has a lot of odd phrasing and punctuation, take a closer look.

Step #5: Look for reliable contact information

Look for several ways to contact the company (phone, email, live chat, physical address) and try them out. Does anyone ever answer the phone? Do you get a generic prerecorded voicemail or form email? If the only method of contact is an online email form, proceed with caution.

I once found a series of similar websites that all used the same “live” chat that generated generic responses instead of actually answering my questions. It was a huge tip-off that none of the sites were legit.

Step #6: Use only secure payment options

Shopping websites should offer standard payment options, such as credit cards or PayPal. If a website requires you to use a wire transfer, money order, or other unsecured (and nonrefundable) form of payment, we recommend staying away, even if the rest of the website looks legitimate.

Step #7: Walk away from deals that are too good to be true

Sometimes retailers heavily discount older merchandise to offload excess goods or make room for new products, but if you find a site that has the latest iPad model listed at an 80% discount, walk away. Chances are high that you‘ll never see the goods you purchase or the money you spent.

Step #8: Run a virus scan

An inundation of ads or pop-ups can indicate that a site isn’t secure. Ads themselves aren’t an indication of a problem, but if there are more ads than content or if you have to click through several ads to be redirected to the website, you have cause to be suspicious. There are several free resources that let you do a quick scan for viruses, phishing, malware, and known scam sites:

The best way to protect yourself against malicious websites is to install antivirus software on all your devices and to keep it up to date.

Step #9: Do your research beforehand

A quick online search of reviews of a website will tell you a lot. You can research the reputation of the seller through the Better Business Bureau and other official review sites. If there aren’t any customer reviews anywhere, that’s a concern. If you find large numbers of negative reviews, that’s a clear signal to walk away.

Step #10: Be proactive about protecting your information

If you visited a site that seemed sketchy or wants to stay on top of protecting your identity, we recommend using a variety of tools:

Each of these services offers another way to keep an eye on your personal and financial information.

Don’t be fooled; be empowered

Online shopping can be a great and harmless experience as long as you watch out for these red flags and use some caution and common sense. Instead of feeling threatened by all the ways fake websites could fool you, realize that by knowing what to look for, you’re empowered to take control of your online experience.

1 comment

  • Comment Link Sheena Sunday, 11 August 2019 18:36 posted by Sheena

    Most of your time when people hear about paid paid suyrvey sites, others either try it out ouut to buyy a cohple minutes
    and then quit, or don't even try out at many. Don't be like individuals.
    If you are serious about creating a lot of money on survey sites, like me, then stop being
    lazy and get moving. Heres an issue for you, would you rather give
    benefit to $8 or even so aas a dull waiter, or would you rather produe other people work
    for you come upp with thousands of dollars per month? If youu definitely are
    a normal person, then I'm pretty positive
    that you picked choice M.

    Its a fantastic idea notice your sitge with cookies disabled, since search engines, plus some browsers,
    you should noot accept cookoes when thheyre investigating your website.

    the Web Developer Toolbar anyone to easily disable, delete or clear cupcakes.

    Saving you time, and supplying you with an alternative
    to temporarily disable them, rather than deleting. Which can nice, since it keeps
    you froom needing to re-enter various logins and passwords you might have had stored previously.

    In ordsr to make money with weblog you should really find
    a subject matter yyou enjoy first. Preferably one you have a desire for.
    For example. If i were to pick "cars" for my topic,
    it could possibly to general and lack focus.
    A omfortable tooic is "Chevrolet", but even which isn't
    to nice. How bout choosing any certain model as
    well better are a specific year model like "2011 Chevrolet Corvette." We all aree getting somewhere!
    My example here could be broken down even further, but I doo think you get
    the picture.

    Get in touch with other blogs and site owners for revikewing internet
    site and offering back one-way links. Natural back links are individuals you may be offered from
    other webmasters simply ecause sitfe acquires.
    So try improve the status of operating costgs to
    read more of regarding.

    Write more articles. Prpvide you . one for tthe keys to bolster your online
    presence. The more articles you post, the quicker you are able to promote easy recall among your potential
    leads. This can also to be able to secure a good page ranking onljne considering will in oder tto to
    generate more back links for web page. You caan easily boost quantity
    of of your site content by extending yourr writing hours, producing short and concise articles, and by focuysing on topics that you are an agent on. Additionally you
    have a choice of hiring ghostwriters from various freelancing sites.

    When creating your linnk you interest to make sure it is the
    right form of link. There's lots of types of links:
    One-way, two-way, three-way aand the in depth four-way link

    Back links are tthe most importance means positivity . talk
    of SEO techbniques and extrrmely crucial regarding
    any newcomer in the field of Internet marketing campaigns.

    The value of it in your website high search rankings is something that you will have
    to do when you launch an online business.
    Following these tips will an inndividual to do terribly.

Leave a comment

airs logo

Association of Internet Research Specialists is the world's leading community for the Internet Research Specialist and provide a Unified Platform that delivers, Education, Training and Certification for Online Research.

Get Exclusive Research Tips in Your Inbox

Receive Great tips via email, enter your email to Subscribe.

Follow Us on Social Media