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How Can I Spot a Fraudulent Website?

by Soraya Herbert | Sep 04, 2020

The internet is full of websites that are either fake, fraudulent or a scam. It’s a sad fact of life. You see, the evolution of the internet has brought with it a number of extremely convenient advances in the way we shop, bank, and interact with the world around us.

Question: I'm concerned about accidentally shopping from a fraudulent website. How can I spot the fakes

Answer: Watch out for these common red flags:

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1. A URL starting with http://

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," indicating the website uses encryption to transfer data, protecting it from hackers.

If a website uses http:// (without the "s"), that doesn't guarantee it's a scam, but it's reason for pause. To be on the safe side, you should never enter personal information into a site beginning with http://.

2. A Newly Created Domain

Scammers often have to set up new websites in an effort to outrun negative reviews from those they've scammed, so domain age can be a telltale sign. Check a resource such as https://whois.domaintools.com to see when the website was created. If it's only been around for a few months, it might be a scam.

3. Fake Security Logos

Check sites for logos that indicate which security certifications a website has, like DigiCert, Verisign, or Symantec. A scam site may copy and paste pictures of these logos on their sites. To check whether a certification is valid, click on the logo to see if it opens a new tab with details about the website's security. If the logo is just a picture and not a button, it's likely fake.

4. No Social Media Presence

Legitimate companies tend to have, at the very least, a presence on Facebook or Twitter with a respectable number of followers. Fraudulent websites, by contrast, may lack social media accounts.

5. No Customer Reviews

Do a quick Google search of the business's name along with "reviews" or "complaints." If there is a lack of reviews or other mentions of the website, you should consider it suspicious.

6. Prices Too Good to Be True

Use common sense to avoid scams. If a website's deals seem too good to be true, they probably are. A good rule of thumb is to be suspicious of discounts greater than 50%.

7. Requirement to Use Unsecured Forms of Payment

Legitimate websites 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, stay away.

With these things in mind, you won't be fooled by fraudulent websites. Stay informed, keep vigilant, and take control of your online shopping experience.


 

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