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How to Spot a Fake Website
It is estimated that there are more than 1 billion websites in existence today, so how can you spot a fake website? Scammers set up fake sites for several reasons. In many cases the site will look legit. It may even have logos on it that you recognize. It could, however, be a phishing site, or it might be selling fake products. So, before you grab what looks like a great deal online, check out these tips on how to spot a fake website.
1. Poor Spelling and Grammar
One of the first indicators that a website may be fake is poorly written content. OK, no one is perfect, and you will, no doubt, find a few typos on this site. The big companies, though, can afford to have content written professionally for them. And, they will have editors that will check their content for errors. Scammers are looking to make a quick buck, so they won’t be as careful about the quality of content. So, if there are lots of spelling mistakes and the grammar doesn’t make sense, the site could be fake.
2. Too Good to be True Prices
There are some legit sites that offer amazing discounts. These sites will usually be selling end-of-line products, samples, or seconds. However, if you see a deal of a lifetime, be on your guard. Especially if it is for high-end products or designer goods. Think about this way. If a legit business has a product that it could sell for $1,000, why would it sell it to you for $100?
3. Credit Cards Not Accepted
If a website does not accept credit cards or debit cards it could be fake site. Reputable sites will accept cards. Scammers will want you to pay by wire transfer, money order, or they may ask for payment in Bitcoin. If they don’t accept credit cards and PayPal, it could be because they don’t want the payments traced back to them.
4. No Contact Details
Legitimate business will have a contact page. On that page you will find ways of contacting them. There will also usually be a physical address and telephone numbers. If a site has no contact details at all, it’s time to start getting suspicious. If a website has a physical address displayed, but you are worried about the site, look up the address on Google.
5. The Site Is New
Established brands will have had a website for years. So, if a site hasn’t been on the internet very long, it may not be a legitimate web site. One of the best ways to check how long a site has been around is to do a Who Is check on ICANN. That will tell you when the domain was created and when it was last updated. It may also tell you who owns the website, but ownership information can be hidden.
6. Suspicious Looking Domain Names
One way to spot fake websites is to look closely at the URL. Big brand names will have simple domain names that reflect their brand. For example, versace.com or rolex.com. Fake sites will often use the brand name in the URL to try to fool people. But the brand name will be combined with other words or characters. If you see a site with a domain of “versacedeals.com”, or cheaprolexdeals.com, there’s a good chance that the site is fake.
7. Terms and Conditions are Not Clear
Legitimate businesses have clearly defined terms and conditions on their websites. Those terms and conditions are usually fair and reasonable. If a site does not display its terms and conditions, be careful. Likewise, if a website’s terms and conditions say anything like “no refunds”, “no guarantees”, or “no returns”, then it’s likely to be a scam site.
8. A High-Ranking Web Site Does Not Guarantee Authenticity
Just because a site is at the number one spot on Google does not mean the site is genuine. Scammers will use what they call “churn and burn sites”. They will artificially boost a website’s Google ranking. Google will eventually spot the artificially high ranking of the website and penalize it. In the meantime, the scammers will have made their money and they will already be working on their next scam web site.
9. HTTPS Does Not Guarantee Legitimacy of a Site
A lot of people believe that sites with a prefix of https can be trusted. This is not always the case. Https and the little padlock that appears beside secure sites means that data you type in on the site is protected by SSL. This prevents your personal information being intercepted. Anyone can set up a website with an SLL certificate, including scammers. An https prefix and the padlock does not guarantee that the site is genuine.
10. Check the Reviews
If you are unsure about a website, do some searching on Google first. Look at online reviews on sites like Sitejabber, Trustpilot, and Feefo. Look at social media as well to see what people are saying about the site. Don’t simply trust the reviews on the site itself. They could be fake. Also, be wary of a site that have lots of 100% excellent ratings. No one is that good!
There’s no need to feel concerned about every web site that you visit, so long as you look for the warning signs. Be aware that fake sites do exist and check for the above warning signs. Then you can browse online safely, and you can help beat the scammers. If it looks too good to be true, then it probably is untrue. If a site asks for unusual personal information, don’t provide it.
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