Banking, shopping, and interacting with businesses have all become a lot faster and easier thanks to the internet. The issue is no longer finding a service online, but rather selecting the most efficient and reliable supplier. Consider the websites that write essays for you. There are both legitimate ones, such as Studybay or SiteJabber and numerous bogus ones.
With more and more websites online and better tools at fraudsters’ disposal, online scams are becoming increasingly sophisticated. It can be really tricky to tell them apart, and it’s easy to fall victim to scam websites even if you’re a pretty savvy internet user.
To help you identify if a website is legit or trying to scam you, this article will cover some of the most common scams out there and tips on how to spot them.
Check for Fake Domains
Many scammers try to look as legit as possible. They create fake websites and even fake profiles on sites such as LinkedIn to make it look like they actually exist. One-time sites can utilize templates from a reliable site. To identify if a domain is fake, you need to do a little research. The following techniques will help you figure out if the domain is fake or not.
1. Examine the URL of the Webpage
The URL of a website consists of the connection type (“http” or “https”), the domain name (for example, “studybay”), and the extension (“.com”, “.net”, etc.).
Make sure the site is secure by checking the address bar (URL) to see if it starts with “https://” or a lock symbol. This doesn’t mean that the site isn’t a scam, but it does show that the owner is using secure encryption to send information and keep hackers away.
Even if you’ve confirmed that the connection is secure, keep an eye out for the following warning signs:
- The domain name contains many dashes or symbols
- Domain names that are based on genuine businesses (e.g., “Amaz0n” or ” Yah00″)
Keep in mind that “.com” and “.net” sites, while not necessarily untrustworthy, are the easiest to obtain domain extensions. As a result, they lack the credibility of a “.edu” (educational institute) or “.gov” (government) site.
You can copy and paste a URL into a field on Google’s Safe Browsing Transparency Report to see if it contains malware or if it is safe to visit.
2. Check WHOIS Data
You can take the above search one step further by checking the whois data associated with the domain name. Whois data contains information about the owner of the domain and contact information. To access whois data, simply go to whois.domains database and enter the domain name.
You can gain some assurance that the site has been around for some time by looking into its age. Scam and fraudulent websites don’t last long because reputable business owners quickly identify them and shut them down. A site that hasn’t been registered for long is more likely to be fake.
3. Use Keyword Search to Find the Website
To determine whether a domain is legitimate or a scam, the best way to start is by simply searching for the domain name with your browser’s search box and see what comes up. This will give you an idea of what the site is about and whether it is a legit organization or a scam.
Check the Website’s Reputation
Once you have identified the domain name, you should be able to find information about the website itself on that domain. Look at the About Us or Company Information section to identify its reputation and credibility.
See if the company or product has received any awards or recognition.
If you have questions or concerns about a website, one of the best places to start is the contact us page. This will usually provide you with contact information for the site, which you can then use to verify its legitimacy.
If the website includes a phone number, you can use a phone lookup service to confirm that it is a valid number. You can also send an email and ask about some facts to verify the authenticity of the website.
1. Identify Verified Social Profiles
Most fraudulent websites won’t bother creating fake social profiles to accompany their website. If you can find verified social profiles associated with the domain, that is a good sign. You can check if a social profile is authentic by looking at the profile’s details and history.
You can also click on the About Us link on the company’s website and check out the social profiles that they have linked there. If they are authentic, then most of their content should match up.
2. Check Facebook Share Counts
Some domains will have large Facebook share counts on their about us page. This is usually because the site has been sharing old posts again and again so that each post gets a new Facebook share count.
So, if you see a large Facebook share count that seems odd, it could be that the website is just sharing old posts to inflate its reputation.
3. Check LinkedIn Influencer Counts
Like Facebook share counts, LinkedIn influencer counts can also be inflated by repeating posts. So, if a website has a high LinkedIn influencer count that seems unrealistic, look at previous posts to see if they are repeating content.
Check the Website Content
Legit business websites will take considerable care to have a professional appearance. An abundance of spelling, punctuation, and grammar issues could indicate that the website was launched quickly. Typos on a website are common, but frequent errors may indicate that you are not on a real site.
- Check how the content is organized. Are the sections and pages in a logical order? Does the content make sense given the type of business that the website claims to be?
- Beware of fake websites that put in the time to create appropriate content, but then make obvious mistakes like putting industry-specific vocabulary outside of a glossary.
- Also, look at the date when the content was last updated. A legit website will update its information to keep it current.
Scammers tend to be very creative when coming up with stories to lure in victims. Look for signs that indicate the website is promoting a scam such as the promise of an easy way to make money without working hard.
Is the Website Owned by a Legit Company?
If you’re thinking about using a website to buy or sell something, like a used car, expensive jewelry, or even just buy a ticket online, you should do a little research first to make sure the company is legit and not scamming people. Most fraudulent websites will try to make it seem like they are owned by a legit company. So, you should check to see if the company that the website is claiming to work for is actually real.
1. Check the Website’s IP Address
An easy way to do this is to simply enter the domain into an IP lookup tool like IPinfo.io. If the website is located in the same country as the company it claims to be, then it’s more than likely legit. However, if it’s located in another country, then you should be wary.
2. Check That the Company Has a Physical Address
If the website has a physical address, then it’s likely legit. However, be wary if the company claims to be located in a high-tax or offshore location like the Bahamas. People set up offshore companies for many legitimate reasons, but that doesn’t mean that all offshore companies are legit.
3. Check That the Website Has Positive Feedback
If you can find positive feedback online, then the website is more than likely legit. However, if everything you find is negative, then you should still exercise caution before giving your information away. You never know; the negative feedback could be from angry competitors or scammed people who got their money back successfully.
Although these tips will help you identify if a website is legit or a scam, it is always better to be safe than sorry. Therefore, if you are intending to buy something from an online seller, please consider using one of the following methods to minimize the risk:
- Use 2-Step Authentication
- Verify That the Website Is Not Failing Security Tests
- Use a service like PayPal that offers buyer protection
- Do Not Enter Credit Card or Banking Information into an Unverified Website
- Read the Fine Print