How to identify a fake website?

2 years ago on October 19, 2022

Scam websites often have very similar URLs and can look nearly identical to the real website. Always look out for these red flags before entering your personal payment information. Scammers can create convincing fake websites. Don’t fall for them.

Scammers are always creating new and improved lookalike websites to trick you out of your personal information and money. These websites may have a very similar URL or look nearly identical to the real website you are searching for, which means they can be difficult to identify.  Recent examples of this kind of scam include DMV imposters and fake postal service websites. Protect yourself with these tips to help you spot fake sites set up by scammers.

The Better Business Bureau offers these tips to help you steer clear:

  • Look closely at the domain name, as this is one way fake websites trick people extremely close to a real business or organization’s domain name. Upon closer examination, you might notice that two letters are swapped or it’s just slightly misspelled. If you find a spelling error in the domain name, you’re not on the official site and it’s best to close the tab.
  • Watch for trick subdomains, because attackers hope you will confuse a subdomain with the real domain name of their website. For example a scammer might use the domain name, hoping you won’t notice the real domain name is actually
  • Watch those links in emails, because that’s a phishing scam. A scammer may send you an email that looks as though it’s coming from a reputable business in hopes that you’ll click on the links without a second thought. Hover over links in unsolicited emails and even in emails that come from a brand, business or person you think you know. If the link doesn’t match the blue text or if it’s a short link and you can’t tell where it leads, don’t click! You may end up on a lookalike website where your personal information could be compromised.
  • Design quality such as low-quality visuals, odd layouts and poor web design can all be warning signs. Before you take action, ask yourself if the design quality measures up to the reputation of the business or person it represents. This can be tricky!
  • Pay close attention to contact information and shop policies. Legitimate online stores should provide you with a physical address and working phone number in the contact section. If those elements are missing, it’s best to take your business elsewhere. Return and shipping policies should be clear and easy to understand. If a shop has policies, but you aren’t convinced it’s legitimate, try copying and pasting the policy section in your web browser to see if it’s been copied and pasted from another website.
  • Do a search for reviews and potential scams. If you can’t tell if a website is real or fake, try typing the website name along with the word “scam” or “reviews” into your web browser. If other people have been victims of a fake site, you’re likely to find reports when you search for scams.  A reputable store should have plenty of reviews for you to examine. Be alert to generic reviews, those that sound robotic or too brief, as these could be fakes.
  • Try a fake website checker. Website checkers such as Google’s Safe Browsing tool can also help you decide whether a website is safe to visit.

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