Today, when all our daily activities have undergone digitalization, recognizing fraudulent websites to protect yourself has become essential. Daily news is full of online frauds becoming more and more complex as scammers use new technologies to lay their hands upon your sensitive personal and financial data, social media, and email logins to carry on online identity thefts.
Frauds related to Covid-19 have also risen in recent times in websites, texts, social media messages. So, it would be best if you were careful, and you must learn to recognize the differences between legit websites and fake website. Here are a few straightforward yet essential pointers to keep in mind before sharing any of your crucial information or doing any transaction with any website.
Look for the Padlock /HTTPS and Beyond It
You must check for the padlock or HTTPS in the address bar before the website URL; it signifies that all the in-transit conversation between the user web browser and the webserver is encrypted. Simply stated, HTTP + SSL = HTTPS.
An array of choices available for SSL Certificates lie with the most reputed Certificate Authority such as Comodo that offers a range of premium yet cheap Comodo SSL Certificates to suit every need and validation level requirement. They help websites protect user’s crucial data by encrypting it.
Although, solely having a padlock on the website does not guarantee the legitimacy of the website. You need to look beyond the padlock and dive deep into the certificate issued to the website to have full information regarding the validity, ownership of the SSL Certificate issued to the website and make an informed decision regarding the website’s authenticity.
Now to view the website’s digital certificate, click on the padlock in the web address bar, then select ‘Certificate’ in Google’s Chrome browser. This reveals information such as validity status, company name. If the certificate is issued for the highest degree of validation, it also shows full details of the company to which it is issued, as seen in the example below.
Confirm the Trust Seal on The Website
When you see a site seal on the website, it reflects that the website takes the security of the visitors seriously. However, there are a few catches here, as the degree of security associated with the security seal needs to be cross-checked by you.
You must click on the security seal to know its legitimacy. If nothing happens when you click on the security seal, then it is just a legitimate copy of the original. Authentic security, when clicked upon, will direct you to a page that gives you details of its authentication.
Pay Close Attention to The Writing Style
Any authentic company website would have a very professional-looking site having strict editorial standards. However, having too many spellings, punctuation, and grammar mistakes could indicate that the website has come live in haste, meaning you could be on a fake website.
Unreal discount offers are also good indicators that they have been placed on the website to attract customers, click on them, and download harmful malware onto your systems.
Carefully Access the Contact Page and Social Media Links
If you see any social media icons on the website like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc., check whether it leads to the company’s business social page. Assess the number of followers and company reviews, and you can even check reviews of their employees on, say, LinkedIn, if you can find them there or on platforms, say, glassdoor.com and indeed.com. This will help you gauge the company’s credibility right from their employees.
Checking product reviews and reviews on the handling of returns, after-sales services, and warranty handling can be of great help in weighing the authenticity of any website. Such business reviews can be accessed from, say, Google reviews, etc.
One crucial feature that must be evaluated for identifying fake websites is the contact options on the contact page. Verify the existence of the phone number provided and the company’s physical address too. Maybe you could check for the physical address on Google Maps if any such address exists. See if the email provided is proper business mail and not a generic one like the company’s email address should be, say, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, etc., instead of having @gmail.com, @yahoo.com.
According to data privacy laws and regulations, websites are mainly required to furnish details of how they will collect user’s data, how they are going to use, protect and store it. They are supposed to provide a detailed document regarding this information to the users who are expected to read it and agree to terms and conditions.
You must go through this document carefully, paying attention to what all permissions are being asked for. Look for any ambiguities and try to see the difference between a professional-looking document and a rushed through, just for the sake of it, written fake document.
If you are trying to make purchases on an e-commerce platform, pay attention to shipping details and return policies. Don’t just take shipping detail policies lightly that reads that once you have made the payments, the customer must wait for, say, seven days before any shipping detail links are raised for the product.
Do not fall into this trap; this is a clear indication that you are on a phishing website. No reputed website on a business platform will tell you this; it is only going to phish out your money and crucial details.
Refrain from making any purchases from any such website, and the best you can do is report about such fake sites for the benefit of others by entering its URL in the Google Safe Browsing website.
Study the URL Thoroughly
The first most crucial step towards identifying a fake website is checking for the authenticity of the URL. This involves checking any replaced or missing or interchanged letter in the URL, e.g. hfdcbank.com, which has an interchanged letter in the bank name, facbook.com, which has a missing letter, palpay.com, which has interchanged words in the URL.
Different TLDs, e.g. Apple.org or Flipkart. cm Above Image is an example of how ABC news channel was scammed by fake news distribution from a fake URL website.
The scammers try to build a fake site that resembles the original one in appearance and try to fool you into sharing your sensitive credentials so that they can use it maybe for carrying out fraudulent transactions.
Once you find anything that doesn’t seem right and you have any doubts regarding the site being fake, you can confirm if the site is carrying any harmful content by entering the site’s URL in the Google Safe Browsing Transparency Report.
In conclusion, we can say that you should always be alert and never let your guards down while performing any important activity online. All these activities, whether logging into your bank account or shopping online, don’t do it in haste; check for the pointers discussed above. Ensure you are on a legitimate website so that you don’t run the risk of losing your hard-earned money and letting the scammers get away with your sensitive data. Stay safe and make your online experience a happy one.