Online fraud continues to be a concern for consumers. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to tell if a website is legitimate or not, especially if you’re used to dealing with brick-and-mortar stores. In this article, we’ll go over some tips on how to spot fraudulent websites and help you stay safe online shopping or other activities.
Table of Contents
- 1. Carefully Look at the Address Starts with “https://”
- 2. Look at the “About Us” Page
- 3. Check the “Contact Us” Page
- 4. Review the Company’s Social Media Presence
- 5. Check for Grammar and Spelling Mistakes on the Website
- 6. Be Wary of Any Site That Asks for Personal Information Up Front
- 7. Look for Trust Seals
- 8. Double Check the Domain Name
- 9. Website Design and Layout
- 10. Content Quality
- 11. Be Caution with Any Site That Asks You to Download Something
- 12. Do a Whois Search
- 13. Look at the Past History on Web.archive.org
- 14. Validate the Site with Google Safe Browser Transparency Report
- 15. Run a Virus Scan
- Final Thought
1. Carefully Look at the Address Starts with “https://”
One surefire way of telling if a website is legitimate or not is to see if the address starts with “https://”. The “s” in https stands for secure, and it means that the site is using a secure connection. This is important because it means that any information you input on the site, such as your credit card number or home address, will be encrypted and much harder for hackers to get their hands on.
If you’re ever unsure about a website, take a look at the address bar. If you don’t see https://, proceed with caution or find another site to make your purchase.
2. Look at the “About Us” Page
When looking for legitimacy, another place to check is the website’s “About Us” page. Many times, scammers will create fake websites and not bother to fill out this page. Or, they’ll copy and paste information from another site.
A legitimate website will have an “About Us” page that is well written and informative. It should give a brief history of the company and include information about the people who run it. It may also list any awards or accolades the website has won.
If you can’t find an “About Us” page, or if it seems incomplete or badly written, this is a red flag that the website might be fraudulent. Always do your research before making a purchase from a new website.
3. Check the “Contact Us” Page
Another way to spot a fake website is to check the “Contact Us” page. A legitimate website will have complete contact information, including a physical address, email address, and phone number on the “Contact Us” page. This is important because it allows you to get in touch with the company if there are any problems with your order.
If you can’t find any contact information, this could be a sign that the website is not reputable. Be cautious when making purchases from websites that are difficult or impossible to get in touch with.
4. Review the Company’s Social Media Presence
In today’s world, almost every business has some sort of social media presence. This is usually in the form of a Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, or Twitter page. If you’re unsure about a website, take a look at their social media platforms.
A legitimate company will usually have an active social media presence with regular updates and engagement with followers. If they don’t have any social media profiles, or if they seem to be inactive or abandoned, this could be a sign that the website is not legitimate.
There are many other things you can look for when trying to determine whether or not a website is reliable. For instance, you might want to check for user reviews and ratings, read customer testimonials, or check for accreditations and certifications.
5. Check for Grammar and Spelling Mistakes on the Website
Fraudulent websites are often put together in a hurry and as such, they can contain a lot of grammar and spelling mistakes. While this isn’t always the case, it’s definitely something to look out for. If you see a lot of typos or poor grammar on a website, it could be a sign that it may not be legitimate.
6. Be Wary of Any Site That Asks for Personal Information Up Front
When you’re shopping online, you should never have to input any personal information until you’re ready to make a purchase. Legitimate websites will never ask for your Social Security number, date of birth, or bank account information upfront.
If a website is asking for this kind of sensitive information before you’ve even had a chance to look at the products or services they’re offering, it’s a huge red flag. It’s likely that they’re just trying to collect this information so they can commit identity theft or some other type of fraud.
7. Look for Trust Seals
When you’re on a website, take a look around to see if there are any trust seals present. Trust seals are basically like a seal of approval from a third party that says the website is safe to use. They’re often displayed in the footer of the website or on the checkout page.
Some of the most common trust seals you’ll see are from organizations like Verisign, McAfee, and BBB. If a website has any of these trust seals, it’s a good sign that they’re legitimate.
8. Double Check the Domain Name
Scammers may use similar domain names to fool users into believing they are visiting a legitimate site. For example, a scammer may use a domain name like “amaz0n.com” instead of “amazon.com.”
To avoid being scammed, take a close look at the domain name before entering any personal information or making a purchase. If you see anything that looks off, it’s probably best to just go to the actual website instead.
9. Website Design and Layout
Another thing to look out for when trying to determine if a website is reliable or not is the site design and layout. A reputable company will usually have a clean, well-designed site that’s easy to navigate.
If you come across a website that looks like it hasn’t been updated in years and seems cluttered or disorganized, this could be a sign that the website is not legitimate. Again, there are always exceptions to the rule, but in general, you should always look out for these types of signs when trying to determine if a website is safe or not.
10. Content Quality
When you’re reading through the content on a website, pay attention to the overall quality. If the content seems poorly written or full of errors, it could be a sign that the website is not reliable.
Of course, not all websites are going to have perfectly written content. However, if you come across a website with a lot of grammatical errors or typos, it’s probably best to just avoid it altogether.
11. Be Caution with Any Site That Asks You to Download Something
Some scammers will try to get you to download a piece of software or an app in order to steal your personal information. They may promise that the software will help you save money or make your shopping experience easier, but it’s really just a way to get access to your personal data.
If you see any prompts to download something when you’re visiting a website, it’s best not to click on them. It’s possible that they’re trying to install malware on your computer or steal your sensitive information in some other way.
12. Do a Whois Search
If you’re really not sure about a website and want to do some more digging, you can always do a whois search. This will give you some basic information about the website, such as when it was created and who owns it. The long age of a domain, the more reliable it may be.
Doing a whois search is pretty simple. Just head over to a site like https://www.godaddy.com/en-sg/whois and enter the website’s address.
13. Look at the Past History on Web.archive.org
If a website has been around for a while, there’s a good chance you can find its past history on web.archive.org. This site takes periodic snapshots of websites so you can see how they looked in the past.
Doing a quick search on web.archive.org can give you some insights into a website’s past. If the website appears to be legitimate and has a solid history, it’s probably safe to use. On the other hand, if you see that the site is brand new or has previous reports of fraud, it’s best to avoid it altogether.
14. Validate the Site with Google Safe Browser Transparency Report
Google has a transparency report that shows you whether or not a website is safe to visit. To use it, just enter the URL of the site you want to check into the search bar: https://transparencyreport.google.com/safe-browsing/search
The report will show you if there has been any malicious software found on the site and whether or not Google has flagged it as being unsafe. If you see any red flags, it’s probably best to avoid the site.
15. Run a Virus Scan
You can also run a virus scan on other third-party authorities to make sure the websites you’re visiting is reliable.
Here are some resources you can check websites:
Website reliability is an important issue that we all need to be aware of. As you can see, there are many ways to tell if a website is reliable and safe to use. When you’re online, whether you’re doing some online shopping or checking out a social media account, it’s always important to be careful.
There are many scammers and other bad actors out there who will try to steal your personal information, so it’s essential to be able to spot the signs of a website that you can’t trust. If you’re ever unsure about a website, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and find another site.