The internet, as full as it is of helpful information, is a breeding ground for criminal activity. Online shopping in particular has become a direct channel for identity theft. Sure, the internet makes shopping infinitely more convenient, but it also makes it a lot riskier. Identity thieves and other online criminals have crafted ways of getting online shoppers’ personal information, banking information, and credit card numbers, and have mastered the art of ripping consumers off. One way they do this is by utilizing fake websites that use real brand names as a cover. Below are some tips for staying Alert and finding evidence that you shouldn’t trust a website.
Whenever you are submitting any sort of personal information online, make sure that the URL has an “s” after the “http” in the beginning of the address. Web addresses with “https” indicate that the website has an SSL Certificate—a security measure that the developer has put into place to ensure privacy and safety.
Gravitate towards recognizable names online. Big, brand names are often much more trustworthy than their counterparts. Look for domain names that actually contain a brand name or the name of a business. Often times, counterfeiters will incorporate pictures of a branded item but the domain name will not match the products they are selling.
The overwhelming majority of sites that are looking to scam you are generally not from English-speaking places. Thus, the language on these sites is often riddled with grammatical errors, spelling mistakes, and language that just plain doesn’t make sense. This is often the biggest give away that a site probably shouldn’t be trusted. Anything that looks off is probably a good indicator that something is not right.
Any time you see a deal or a price that seems just too good to be true, it’s probably (unfortunately) because it IS too good to be true. It’s more often than not a scam and you shouldn’t trust it. Take a step back and ask yourself if it’s realistic, and maybe go through and look for other signs that the website could be a fraud.
Protecting yourself and your information online is just as important as protecting your physical self. With the world becoming more and more reliant on the internet, somebody getting a hold of your information online can have detrimental consequences. If you come across a website that matches the descriptions above and you suspect it may be a fake website with criminal intentions, you can report it to StopFakes.gov.