With so many websites today and the dependency on the internet ever-increasing for exchanging information, financial transactions, business, etc., the risks have increased simultaneously. The basis of all these activities are the websites, so it becomes more critical to identify a legitimate website on the internet to safeguard ourselves from internet frauds. Every year, one in ten adults falls victim to a fraudulent website that costs them massively. With lots of activities running on social media platforms through individual accounts, Account takeover frauds have topped the list for the year with around a 72% increase.
Fake websites aim majorly at the phishing scams and steal away sensitive information, including the credit or debit card details, email addresses, residential addresses of the users and employ it to execute the attack. Moreover, it may take years for an individual to come out of the same effect. Therefore, to avoid all of these, one must know certain signs and criteria to quickly spot a fake website and maintain a safe distance from the same.
Phishing can result in several consequences. Here, we have created a complete guide to identify the fake websites from the trustworthy ones and thereby make informed choices regarding the same. So, let’s dive in quickly and understand the same in a detailed manner:
How to identify if the website is fake or fraudulent?
Checking the URL
Presence of SSL Certificates
Viewing Certificate Details of a Website
Some signs from inside the Website
Trust or Verification Seals
Check reviews and testimonials
Social Media Presence
Most websites try to mimic an original website to trick the visitors into committing mistakes. So very likely, the URLs of these websites are very similarly framed with only slight variation, which is noticeable upon careful inspection. These slight differences may be hard to notice, but there are many website reputation checkers available online that can be used to identify a legit website. Spelling mistakes, improper word usage in URLs, etc., are some of the easy identifications of fraudulent websites.
Extended validation is one of the highest levels of validation that can be seen on the address bar. For example, the Green address bar with a padlock icon before the URL confirms the EV Certification- proof of website identity.
These links are often added to phishing emails through hyperlinking text that hides the URLs for direct sites. Also, these kinds of mail will have inappropriate email domain, misspelled subject and body of emails, urgent and time-bound actions or requests in the mail. Therefore, it is always advisable to scan the hyperlink URLs from unidentified users before clicking on them. Furthermore, such fake website URLs will have letters out of space, misaligned words from the original domain and sub-domain name of that URL. Hence it is essential to carefully look and think before clicking any link on a mail or any webpage.
SSL certificate is what gives website connections a lot of authenticity. SSL Certificate provides websites the HTTPS protocols. HTTPS ensures much stronger encryption and is more secure than plain-text HTTP protocols. So the data transfer between the browser and website servers is secured with more robust and updated encryption. SSL Certificate Providers must be reliable as well. All websites like banking portals, eCommerce, social media, etc., will essentially have an SSL certificate. The secure Padlock symbol can quickly identify the SSL certificate just before the URL or by the “https://” characters at the URLs’ beginning. Websites using SSL certificates are a good confirmation that the website is legitimate.
To identify a legitimate SSL or find more details on the SSL certificate, the SSL certificate can be viewed for any website by clicking on the padlock icon and clicking on the certificate is a valid option as below. This takes you to the certificate information. The tabs in the Certificate window provide various kinds of information like issued by and for Parties, Validation dates, organization name, country name/ region, etc. Therefore, using an SSL Certificate can bring several advantages if appropriately employed.
The information available depends on the type of certificate like Domain Validation (DV) Certificate, Organization Validation (OV) Certificate and the most robust one- Extended Validation (EV) certificate. DV SSL certificates are the Cheapest SSL Certificates in the market. DV SSL only shows domain information. The OV certificate will have much more details like the company’s name, country, state, and city. EV certificate will add the company’s name to Site information and much greater details in the subject field and the company’s name, country, state, and city.
For a commercial website – do check for its shipping and return policy.
Check the contact information of the website. Though contact information can be very easily impersonated, a check can ensure that you are on the right website. In addition, one can use those details to verify the website if needed.
Information about the website/ organization is exceptionally crucial. In most cases, the organization gives out the details of its origin and evolution. Though the presence of such information does not guarantee the authenticity of a website, its absence is an issue to be careful of. Visual clues from the website are cardinal. A fake website or an imposter one will have some deviations in terms of visual clues from the original websites or may have too many unnecessary ads on its page.
Logos of the brand, erroneous content, too many ads between the content, etc., are some of the common identifications of a fake or scam website.
Very often, organizations invest in the security of their customers through third-party providers who specialize in making them more secure. These appear as trust seals or verified signs on the websites. These symbols add to the authenticity and trustworthiness of a website and organization. These seals ensure that the website owners follow the best security practices, and they provide the relevant information about security protocols followed by websites. Some of the common trust shields are-
Reading the reviews from the actual users of the product or services establishes credibility among the people. Therefore, it is essential to have a separate segment of reviews and testimonials on your website. Word of mouth is considered the most powerful tool in convincing people to make that purchase or avail that service you provide. A website that lacks this particular feature is not considered legitimate or trustworthy. Therefore, users tend to ignore such websites and are considered fake by them.
To gain popularity among the users with time, it is essential to emotionally associate with them through testimonials. It is believed by the experts that the kind of impact that the testimonials establish with the buyers, there are very few such approaches that can make the same effect.
Testimonials and feedback are considered unbiased and thus act as a significant force by the audience in isolating the trustworthy from the fake. Generally, it is observed that the fraudulent websites provide no feedback or testimonials in any sense. Therefore, it is advised to avoid such pages and save you from not doing business with them.
To have a credible social media presence, you must have an equally impressive social media presence. Furthermore, it is common behavior for the audience to check the social media presence of the business organization before doing business with them. Therefore, the site organizations or owners with credible social media can bring overall positive results in the conversion of visitors to buyers.
The businesses that are active on social media tend to do better due to their social media influence. The reach increases naturally, and it is easier to establish a long-term association with the users due to the same. On the contrary, it is seen that fake websites have a non-existing or very less social media presence. To avoid such things, make a strong presence on social media. All the events must be updated to get the due attention from time to time.
Today, internet users are more than worried about their hard-earned money and how to protect it from an internet breach. Fake links and emails are sent to the users to establish a scam and take away their sensitive information or hard-earned money. Users are too confused in the current times as they cannot spot fake websites and share important information with them, which further results in tremendous losses.
Every year a large amount of data is leaked, and thus these breaches are common in today’s internet world. Therefore, to save you from the numerous scams, it is essential to employ the points mentioned above to help you ace the security game.