Criminals use fake websites to trick you into sharing your personal information. This includes log ins, passwords, verification codes and more.
They create these sites to mimic the look and feel of trusted services. To do this, they often appeal to emotions such as urgency, optimism or fear. To help you avoid being scammed, this article will teach you how to spot and report a scam website.
Check the URL
Scammers are always reinventing new ways to rip people off. If you find a website that makes grandiose claims or seems too good to be true, make sure you report it. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) website has a list of different scams and how to report them.
If you find a website that appears to be violating copyright, you can try to notify the site owner using the DMCA notification form. You can also contact the registrar of the domain, large registrars such as GoDaddy, NameCheap and others have dedicated help lines for customers that can assist you.
Check the design
Scam websites come in all shapes and sizes. Whether they’re standalone sites or unauthorized overlays on legitimate websites via clickjacking, their purpose is the same: to lure internet users into revealing personal information for criminal purposes.
The best way to stay safe online is to never trust a website simply by clicking links or using a browser extension. Instead, type in the web address manually or store it in your bookmarks to make sure you are visiting a genuine site.
It’s also worth paying attention to the visual design and layout of a site. For example, pixelated or low-quality images should be a warning sign as should awkwardly designed pages and grammatical errors. You can use a free tool like Google’s safe browsing transparency search to find out if a website Is Legit or Scam legitimate or not. Just type the URL into the search bar and it will provide you with a result based on its history.
Check the language
Scam websites can take many forms but their purpose is always the same: to trick internet users into giving up their personal information or devices to attackers. They may be standalone websites, popups, or unauthorized overlays on legitimate sites (clickjacking). Whether they use attractive offers or frightening alert messages, scammers often employ psychological exploits to make their schemes work.
Look out for poor language: spelling mistakes, awkward grammar and other red flags should be warning enough to steer clear. Scammers are likely to have a limited budget so they can’t afford to invest in professional writers. Awkward layouts and visual designs should also raise alarm bells.
If you’re unsure, try running the website address through a free website checker. Tools such as Google’s Safe Browsing Transparency Report let you paste a URL into a search box and assess whether it’s a trustworthy site. Also, avoid sites with excessive ad content or redirection. The presence of ads or a redirection to another domain is a strong indicator that the site is a fake.
Check the reputation
Scam websites come in many forms. Some imitate login pages or payment methods from a famous brand and lure you into handing over your credentials. Others try to scare you into downloading malware by warning you of viruses on your device and offering software to fix them.
Another easy way to spot a fake website is to check its reputation. Look up the site’s domain name in a search engine to see what comes up. If you find articles about scams or no results at all, it’s a good bet the website isn’t legit.
You can also look up a site’s owner to see if they’re reputable. If the company behind a legitimate website makes it difficult to contact them, or has low-resolution images, that’s a red flag. Many cybersecurity companies also work on cyber threat intelligence and will accept reports of fake websites to include them in their blocklists. This helps prevent users from unknowingly visiting a malicious site and infecting their devices.