This question often arises in the mind when you are new on the internet. It is not easy for beginners to differentiate in a fake and genuine website. Thus, you can fall for a scam or give up sensitive information.
There are a few websites that offer cheap deals to lure people. For instance, people often ask is getintopc safe? In this case, the website is genuine. However, for other websites, it can be a trap.
Therefore, I created this straightforward guide for you to learn how to spot a fake website. These best practices will help you to decide whether you should use the site or not.
So, without any further ado, let’s get started.
How to Spot Fake Websites?
We will go through a few tricks and tips to understand if a website is trustworthy. It would be best to apply as many filters as possible beforehand.
You can use the simple tricks to categorize if the website is safe or unsafe at first glance. Or, you can use some technical ones to be sure.
Here are the factors you will need to know a scam website.
Pay Attention to the Address Bar
The first thing to do whenever you open a new website is looking at the address bar. Many websites only show the domain name in the address bar. Therefore, double-click on the address bar to reveal the full URL.
A URL is the location of any webpage on the world wide web. It also shows the protocol any website is using. The protocol defines how servers are treating your data. Are they keeping it secure or not.
Now, without going into much more technical stuff, here’s the primary concern. Look if a website is using “https” or “http” protocol.
Here, HTTPS stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure. That means the data you are uploading on the website is encrypted, and hackers can not see it. If the site has “http” without the “s,” try not to enter any sensitive data like your name, address, or credit card details.
HTTPS protocol doesn’t define if a website is a scam. However, any genuine website that requires you to enter financial details must use it.
Some reliable website does not use the “HTTPS” protocol too. However, they are mostly blogs that would not ask you any personal information.
Some web browsers like Google Chrome make it easy for you to know if a website is secure in terms of entering information. It shows a padlock in front of the URL that indicated the website is secure. Otherwise, it would show the “not secure” icon.
In short, if you are looking to buy something, stay away from websites using “HTTP” protocol. Instead, go for “HTTPS” ones and check them against more factors from this article.
Look at the Domain Name
Scammers love to deceive people by showing them a website identical to big brands. For instance, the original website for Amazon is “amazon.com.” Scammers can create a similar looking website under the name “amaz0n.com” or “amazon-sale.com.”
The domain name looks similar to that of the original. However, it can take you to a fake website and deceive you into buying non-existent products.
Such websites also show impractical offers. There is a saying about the internet, “if it looks too good to be true, it probabily is false.”
Therefore, always double-check the domain name to confirm you are on a genuine website, especially if it looks like a big brand.
Look for the Domain Age
The online shopping rate increases rapidly around holidays. Well, scammers know this and usually use it to target more victims.
There is a visible surge in fake or scam websites around the holiday season. Developers can quickly create a website looking similar to a big brand website like Amazon.
However, such websites’ lifespan isn’t much because numerous online threat protection services mark the URL as spam. Therefore, the website exists online for a negligible amount of time, say one month.
Any scam website will have relatively short domain age. For instance, Amazon was first registered on 1994-10-31. That makes the domain age close to 10,000 days.
In contrast, a scam website would have the domain age of 60 days on average. You can use the Whois Lookup tool to identify the age of any domain.
Watch for Poor Grammar and Spelling
Poor grammar, punctuations, spelling mistakes, and more indicates a website went up quickly. Occasional typos are understandable even for a popular website. However, they usually work on the content to make sure they look professional.
In contrast, a scam website is created in minimum time and that scratch off the possibility of heavy scrutinization. Thus, such websites have numerous spelling mistakes and grammatical errors.
Is Contact Information reliable?
A good website shows the contact information like email address, customer care number, physical office address, and more. It is usually the case with e-commerce sites. They are bound to provide such details for transparency.
Some blog owners might not want to give you personal information. However, they do have an about page, contact page, and more similar data.
A scam website does not work much on creating such pages. Even if they do, the information available on the page would certainly look suspicious.
It would be best to try contacting the authority. If you receive a pre-recorded message or email, go with the procedure and see if it ends with a customer executive talking with you.
Scammers don’t waste their time on users who are aware and therefore won’t answer your queries. Instead, they go for easy targets to gain maximum benefit in the least time.
Cyber Security certification are worth the effort if you use them as a supplement to other qualifications on your resume.
Look for Secure Payment Options
Any website offering you a paid service or product must have a secure money transfer system in place. Some examples include debit card, PayPal, or net banking.
If the site wants you to use insecure or non-refundable options like wire transfer, or money order, it is best to keep away from such websites.
Is it Too Good to be True
Like I mentioned earlier, if a deal sound too good to be true, then it is probably false.
That means no manufactures can provide you 90% off on electronics products. If you see an iPhone for $50, do not buy it. The electronics example works best because the price is usually similar throughout the internet.
The same might not apply for clothes depending upon the quality of the material. Still, if it looks too cheap, then don’t go for it.
People usually get diverted by shiny deals and forget to check if the URL is genuine. Or, any reviews regarding the website and products available on it. If you spend your money buying from a scam website, feel free to assume that you will ever see the product and your money again.
Run a Virus Scan
The best way to check if an URL is scammy is to check it on the online virus checker tools. However, this method is not very reliable when I checked it.
If you are using Chrome, then the browser itself will stop you from visiting the scam websites, given it is present in the directory. Similarly, the online threat checker only works when the scam website is in their database.
Therefore, you can not be dependent on the results. It is possible that you opened a less known fake website that no one is yet to report. Still, checking an URL for a virus is an excellent thing to do.
You can do one similar check here.
We have seen some tips and tricks you can use to ensure you are not accessing a fake website. However, most of them require an experienced sight to judge if the website is a scam or not correctly. Therefore, you should also use some cybersecurity products like password managers, VPN services, and more.
The tips mentioned above will surely come in handy after practising them frequently and checking the results.