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How to Identify and Protect Yourself from Fake Websites

Internet fraud has been around for as long as the web has existed. Many websites on the internet are either fake or fraudulent, which continues to be a threat to both website owners and internet users. Being able to spot them will help you protect yourself from scams and phishing attacks.

In this guide, we will go through tips to help you spot these fraudulent or fake websites. Plus, several basic techniques you can use to prevent phishing attacks as your surf online.

But first, we will need to understand what phishing is and how it is a threat to internet users.

Phishing is a type of online fraud that targets the end-user on a device to disclose sensitive information under false pretenses. Phishing attacks take different forms, such as getting you to offer your personal information or passwords to sensitive accounts. Sophisticated attackers might even install malware on your computer to get access to such details.

Scammers are constantly changing their tactics, so you need to look out for these fake websites.

Here are tips to determine if a website is fake;

  1. Look at the Domain name or URL. A common technique used by scammers is to impersonate existing brands to come across as legitimate. You can beat attackers to their own game by paying close attention to the domain name in the URL(the address of a web page). You might find inconsistencies in the spelling of a domain name and the length. Fraudulent websites can use a subdomain that closely resembles a legitimate domain name to throw you off.
  2. Check for a digital footprint. If you are suspicious that a website may be fake, you can look it up further online. There are many online sites dedicated to gathering all publicly available information. You can also look at any existing social accounts to look for discrepancies. Plus, chances are other people have shared their experiences with a company online. With just a little digging, you can figure out if a website is fake from their reviews. Either way, it is better to be safe than sorry. If a website has little to no digital footprint, you need to be wary. Most phishing websites are usually new to take advantage of a season, such as holiday shoppers, etc.
  3. Look for trust seals. A trust badge is a logo you display on your site to assure web users that you are legitimate. Trust seals remind visitors that they are on a secure page hence can entrust you with their personal information. You can mostly find them on the homepage or check out pages of a website. Payment trust seals are vital for businesses that have money transactions on their site. You can also click on trust seals to exercise extra caution and check for legitimacy.
  4. Check on Whois. This database is an invaluable tool that gives you details of the owner of a website- if it is an individual or a company, listed along with the location and email. Knowing where to find these details comes in handy to confirm if a brand you are dealing with is legitimate. Plus, if someone uses a domain for nefarious reasons, you can look up the domain name registrant on Whois for accountability.
  5. Check the Website. Look out for grammar mistakes and statements that don’t make sense on a site. Also, verify the information supplied in the Contact Us section, such as a physical address, phone number, emails, etc. If a website does not provide any contact details, you need to be skeptical. A company offering products or services should include a viable location, a phone number, and email to contact them. So the less information provided in the contact section, the higher the chances it is a fake website.
  6. Lastly, listen to your browser. If your browser suggests that you don’t proceed to a website, don’t do it. The warning is likely to be based on data that indicates a threat exists, which you should take seriously.

How do you protect yourself from fake websites?

Here are tips on how to protect yourself from getting scammed by fake websites and phishing;

  1. Install an SSL certificate on your website. Secure Socket Layers (SSL) certificates are a must-have for all websites. Building consumer trust on your website takes a lot of time and effort. You want to ensure that you protect your visitors’ data at all times. Plus, an SSL certificate will set you apart from a duplicate. If someone tries to lure web users to it, the lack of a certificate will make them skeptical to proceed further to a site.
  2. Update your passwords. Change all passwords regularly to ensure top-level security. Also, make sure you use unique passwords with a complex structure. It is always better to use a randomly generated password instead of a human-generated one.
  3. Set up two-factor authentication. Hackers often use sophisticated software that uses brute force to crack passwords. Implement two-factor authentication, a security feature that adds a second step to the login process, to prevent hacks and data breaches.

Phishing attacks may be prevalent, but there are plenty of ways you can protect yourself from them. As long you stay vigilant to identify fake websites, you can be safe online and avoid being a victim of scam.

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