There are a variety of online scams targeting naive and unsuspecting victims. There’s phishing, lottery, job offer, online dating, and credit card scams. Aside from these, one of the most popular scams commonly seen are fake websites. Below, we discuss all about them and how to spot a fake website.
What Is A Fake Website?
In simple terms, a fake website is a website that is not legitimate or impersonates other real companies or websites. The goal of these websites are to persuade online users to give up personal information such as their email address, name, date of birth, credit card numbers, and social security number. They may also be used to install internet viruses on a person’s device to gain control of it and retrieve the user’s data. Once these sites have a person’s information and data, they can use it to steal their identity, finances, and more.
Fake sites can portray illegitimate charities, giveaways, digital services, online stores, and more. They can even pretend to be real companies such as Best Buy and Staples. Often, these fake websites will completely copy a website or pretend to be a company’s customer service team in order to scam people. Thankfully, there are a number of ways to figure out if a website is legit or fake.
8 Red Flags A Website Is Fake
Check The Website’s URL
By just checking the URL of a website, you can determine if it’s legitimate or not. A real web address should just contain: http or https, www., domain name, and top-level domain (.com, .org). For example, https://www.google.com. If the address contains extra text in the domain name or a different top-level domain that isn’t typical, the site is likely fake.
See If The Website Is Secure
There’s one way to easily see if a website is secure. If the site URL has “https” in it, it is secure. If it has “http”, the site isn’t secure. However, visiting an unsecure site doesn’t necessarily mean the website is fake. But often, fake websites are unsecure.
Google Search The Company
Prior to taking up any deal or providing any information to a website, search the company. If the webpage is a fake company site, you’ll immediately find out. When you search a specific business, their legitimate website will usually appear in the top results.
Check Their Contact Information
A legitimate company website should provide users with multiple methods to contact them such as live chat, contact form, phone number, and email. If the website has just one of these methods, specifically live chat or a contact form, that’s a red flag the website could be fake.
For live chat, something to watch out for is automated or generic responses that don’t actually answer your question or solve your problem. If there is a phone number, you should call it. See if there’s a live representative or an automated response. If they always answer with an automated response that provides little to no help, it’s likely a fake company.
See If They Have Social Media Accounts
Most online shops, companies, and charities almost always have social media accounts created. If a site doesn’t have any social media accounts, be wary of using their service. If they happen to have social media profiles, see how active they are on it. Sometimes an inactive account could be a sign it’s a dummy profile.
Look For Trust Seals On The Website
Companies want to ensure to visitors that their website is secure by including trust seals from businesses like Norton, Google, BBB, PayPal, and more. Usually, these seals are located on a website’s home, checkout, and login pages. However, many fake websites have caught onto this and included images of the real seals or knock off versions of them. If a website doesn’t have any seals, avoid it.
Watch For Grammatical Errors
When scammers create fake websites from scratch or copy others, they often do it hastily leaving grammatical errors. Look at various pages on the site and see if there are any clear grammar mistakes. Also, if the website doesn’t provide much information or the copy is vague, that could be a sign as well.
The Offer Seems Too Good To Be True
A tactic scammers use to lure in people is offering goods or services at an amazing price. To most, it would just seem like a deal they should take advantage of. Scammers use this to lure in their victims to fake shopping or service websites so they can obtain their personal and financial information. If you see a deal that’s too good to be true from an unfamiliar source, double check before committing.
Those are some various ways to see if a website is safe and legitimate, and not fake. Next time you visit a website you don’t typically use, take your time and investigate it further before you act hastily.