With Internet businesses growing at exponential rates, scammers are also sneaking in to get their share of the pie. This makes it difficult for casual web surfers to decide or trust someone easily.
If you too feel suspicious about any site before making a move, follow the guidelines given in this article to verify if the site is legitimate.
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Guidelines to Verify the Legitimate Site
While browsing a site, the first thing you should check is if the URL in the address bar starts with HTTPS. It ensures that a secured connection is made between you and the website.
HTTPS connection ensures that the communication between you and the website server is encrypted. No one else other than you two can intercept and read it.
Information such as your login details or credit card information typed on that site form will be sent to the servers using the encrypted form. They are not human readable and hence prevent hacker attempts to steal the information.
Since it has been considered a ranking signal by Google, most websites have implemented SSL already not only the ones dealing with payment information. However, there are some sites that still haven’t made a shift so, you can install a browser add-on called HTTPS everywhere which automatically switches sites to HTTPS.
It is fairly easy and cheap to implement SSL and hence this technology could be used by miscreants to mislead visitors. SSL connection doesn’t ensure protection against fraud in financial transactions. You have to take other measures to ensure safety against fraud.
Check website Reviews
In the real world, if you want to know if the person is trustworthy or not, ask others about him, right?
The same is the case with websites
Just search the website’s name online and you should find reviews about it.
Go through what other people have said about it and decide for yourself.
This technique might fail in the case of a phishing setup where miscreants take advantage of mistyping.
For example: MalwareFox.com could be written as MalvvareFox.com
Did you notice that I wrote “w” as “v v”?
There are many other ways to trick visitors into believing it is a legit website. So, there are some extra steps to carry out in such cases.
Watch out for the Presentation of the site
Some red flags to check:
- Verify the spelling of the domain name in the address bar – Fake websites generally use wordings that closely resemble the real website. They often use special characters or hyphens to make it possible.
The website address in the above message looks legit at first sight. However, if you notice it closely, it is not Adidas but adidạs.com.
Still didn’t get it? Alphabet “a” before “s” is actually a Latin character. This is just one clever example of deception so make sure that you recheck the address bar before giving out your personal details.
- Poorly written content – If there is inaccuracy in spelling and grammar of the page content, you should question the site’s reliability. This doesn’t mean the site is a scam because English might be the second language of the webmaster. However, an inaccurate explanation means a poor source of the site.
- Invasive Advertisement – Legitimate sites won’t fill up a complete webpage with irritating advertisements. Some websites might make use of malvertising for monetization purposes.
- Check About and Contact Page – Legitimate sites give legal business addresses and real information in the About section of their site. You can even write them or call them to verify the details and clear your queries before proceeding.
Fake Website Detectors
Though the tools suggested in this guide are automated and may not give the real picture of the credibility of the site, it is a good practice to go through them.
- Google Transparency Report
This tool gives an idea about the safety rating of the website. Google not only examines illegitimate websites but also checks for legit sites if compromised.
For example, MalwareFox.com ‘s status is shown as “No unsafe content found”
- Trust Badges
Look out for badges and certifications from trusted labs and organizations like Better Business Bureau, Web of Trust, Norton SafeWeb, PayPal and other business verification badges.
- Social Media Presence: Check their Facebook or Twitter page if present and see what other users have said about their experience.
These third-party tools will give you an overall idea about the reputation of the website.
How to check if the site is safe to buy from?
The question still remains whether you should trust the website to make a purchase?
If everything is correct, people operating might still scam you by offering a substandard product. You might still become a victim of a scam so avoid Bank transfers and please pay using Credit Card or PayPal. It is because these methods shield you by offering a reverse credit in case something goes wrong.
If you are unfortunate to fall prey, here is a guide on what to do after being scammed online.