Signs That a Website Is Fraudulent
Cybercrime is on the rise, so it is more important than ever to protect yourself from fraudulent websites. There are a number of things to look out for in order to keep you and your family safe from the many online scams being run.
What Is a Fraudulent Website?
A fraudulent website can be defined as one that is fake, set up in order to run some sort of scam or phish for sensitive private information, with a view to defrauding site visitors or even stealing their identities.
Fortunately, there are a number of telltale signs to watch out for.
Signs That a Website Is Suspicious
1. The domain name
Fraudulent sites will usually use a domain name similar to a reputable company or brand name. There have been many scam sites based around Amazon.com, for example. They might include a brand name in the URL, such as AdidasBargains.com, but not be affiliated with the company in any way.
2. No contact information posted prominently
Honest websites have nothing to hide, so you will usually see some form of contact information posted at the site prominently, such as name, address, phone and email. Google requires this data to be obvious in order to include a site in their search engine results pages. If you dont see a physical location as well as virtual contact data, steer clear.
3. Spelling and grammatical errors
Sometimes the URL looks legitimate apart from a spelling error. In other cases, the content at the site will be badly written. A lot of scam sites try to pose as American or Canadian companies in order to make consumers feel a false sense of security. Poor mechanics is a sign of overseas cybercriminals trying to con you.
4. Check the WHOIS registration for the domain
Not all of the data is completely visible; some pay more for secure accounts. In general, however, Network Solutions is the best place to see who owns the domain and where it is being administered from. Go to https://www.networksolutions.com/whois/index.jsp and put in the URL of the site you suspect. Check to see the location where it has been registered and the creation date to see how long it has been registered for. Scam sites are usually made on the fly and disappear just as quickly.
5. Try the phone number listed
WHOIS should list a phone number. Call it to see if it works. If it is an answer machine, the number is not in service, or no one ever answers during business hours, it is more than likely a scam. It might also be a website hosting service where the domain is parked, in which case there will be no way to contact actual staff for the site. Again, steer clear.
6. Look for the “s” in https://
This shows it is a secure site. If there is no “s”, then the site is not secure and others can access your sensitive information. Google will not list sites that do not have https:// certification.
7. Run a Google search
See if the site has any reviews or if people are complaining it is a scam. Also, see if it shows up in search engine results.
8. Check the links on Google
If it is a legitimate site, it will usually have links pointing to it from other websites. If the only thing that shows up is the domain name, steer clear.
9. Beware phishing emails
These will often look like they come from PayPal or your bank, but there will be something off about the URL and it wont always look identical to the usual log-in page.
Go to https://www.usa.gov/online-safety to learn more about safety and report any scam site you come across.