Fake website scams took a toll on the online world during the pandemic. In fact, it rose up to a point where the Federal Trade Commission received 2.1 million + fraud reports from online users all over the internet!
Moreover, more than $3.3 billion in losses were incurred in 2020. But, what’s more, shocking is a staggering $1.2 billion of losses were reported due to fake website scams only!
Unfortunately, even with these statistics, most online users assume they’re safe. They turn a blind eye towards such scams until the worst happens.
So, this article will protect you against fake websites by with a checklist of identifiers from a fake and a real one.
Let’s educate to protect!
A padlock icon in the URL is one of the best ways to identify fake websites!
A Padlock icon is present in the website’s URL. If you see it, the website is safe to use but if you see a ‘Not secure’ sign in red, we hope you run fast.
This padlock indicates that the company cares about a customer’s privacy and data (Customers love that!).
But how does that work?
In techy terms, the presence of a padlock indicates the presence of a TLS/SSL certificate. It encrypts data sent between the customer and the website.
In laymen language, it sends your sensitive info to the website without a scammer’s interference.
If you see something other than the padlock it means your data’s at risk and can be leaked online. Refrain from entering your banking details on such pages.
Be cautious when you find typo errors on a website.
This could be a sign that the website is fake. Though this is not true all the time, you must not let your guard down.
One of the prominent ways to identify a fake website is to inspect its website copy, product descriptions and other content. Even the most authoritative websites often have syntax errors. But, their dedicated teams correct them immediately.
So, if they spell something fishy- chances are you’re using a fake website. Run.
Scammers love when you fail to identify fake websites.
And to do that, they create fake websites that look identical to the original ones.
Their favourite trick is to create a similar domain name to trick you.
Eg. Yah00.com or Go0gle.com
They might also change the domain name so that it slips in completely unnoticed.
Eg. Amazon.net or Filpkart.org
So, make it a point to double-check the URL and reassure that you’re not taken to a fake website.
You submit your banking details to e-commerce websites but, you’re clueless about your data’s whereabouts.
Data privacy laws and regulations are your chance to know how the website collects, uses, protects and stores your data. These are procedures and protocols that serve as a guideline for users and the company.
These privacy policies are in a link or a detailed word document. Read it carefully before providing any sensitive info to the website.
If you find a poorly written policy, that’s a red flag.
Site seals signal that the website you’re visiting is authentic. Look for these site seals and click them to know more about the company’s safety measures.
Unclickable seals should not be trusted. They could be .png images added by the scammer to replicate the real website. So, to identify fake websites look for these site seals too!
Companies are also adopting the brand new ‘DigiCert Smart Seal’, a new age dynamic smart seal that’s eye-catching enough to attract the users towards its security measures.
Another way to identify a fake website is to always check if their points of contact actually work.
Look for any email addresses, Live chat, physical addresses, contacts or customer care numbers you can find.
Fraudsters do not want you contacting them. So, they don’t add their contact details either. If you can’t see many ways to reach out to them, proceed with caution.
How can they not be online?
It’s tough to trust a company that doesn’t have any social media presence. Everyone’s online, where are they?
Yes, they can choose to market only a specific platform but there must be some digital footprints.
So, to identify fake websites, check their social media presence. Find out what customers have been through. Take your time to investigate.
Lastly, check LinkedIn to find out the real employees of the company. There must be humans handling it, right?
The Google Safe Browsing Transparency Report allows generating a safety report of a website of your choice. You can identify fake websites if the report tells you it’s unsafe. It’s one clear shot you can take at trusting a website.
Get a preview with a review.
Reading a review tells you exactly what you’re getting into. If it’s a fake website, you’ll either find bad reviews or sheer silence.
But, do trust your gut. Even though reading reviews is a great way to identify fake websites but scammers can add fake reviews too!
In such cases…
Walk away from shady websites
Brands keep offering amazing deals and sales to promote their newly launched goods or maybe a stock clearance sale. However, to identify fake websites you must look out for any unbelievable deals. This could be a potential trap.
If you find such a website, it’s better to simply walk away.
What to do if you found a fake website
If you’ve been redirected to a website that you think is fake, step away from it. Do not provide any information that might put you into trouble. Even your name counts. Refrain from providing your social media ids, logins, financial details, contact info or addresses.
In fact, do not respond to any email the website sends you.
Report the fake website to Google immediately and be out of the picture asap!
To stay miles from fake websites one must be vigilant enough to spot them. All you need is enough weapons, ammo and a practised eye to never miss identifying a fake website.
We hope this helped!