How Can You Identify And Avoid Scam Websites?

As a consumer, you have a right to know what you’re getting into before making a purchase. Naturally, we all want to buy from reputable websites that offer quality products and services. Unfortunately, there are many scam sites out there tricking people into buying their items with deceitful practices such as bait-and-switch tactics or by impersonating other companies to get your credit card information. If you’re unsure whether the site is legitimate, then it’s best not to take any chances because once they’ve got your money, it’s gone for good!¬†

Luckily, there are several ways to tell if you’re about to purchase from a fraudulent website. Here are some of the most useful tips that’ll help you avoid getting ripped off.

Verify the domain names carefully

One way for consumers to avoid purchasing from scam sites is by verifying the address for the website where they are buying their items from. Occasionally, there are misspellings of popular websites to fool people into thinking they’re visiting the legitimate site when in fact, it’s just a copycat that may have malicious or hacked content.¬†

In addition, phishing websites can look almost identical to the original website’s brand because they have been designed with the same colors and logos. To avoid this from happening, notice the web address to be sure it matches up with what you typed into your browser. If there is a ton of clutter at the beginning or end of a URL, then it’s best to double-check that you’ve got the right web address.

Check the URL to see if there are “s” in place of “HTTP”

Many scam sites use a fake SSL certificate so consumers will feel secure while making their purchases. Along with this, they’ll add additional words after “https://” such as “secure,” “secured,” or “Paypal.” These words are supposed to make you feel more at ease with the website you’re buying from, but they are all simply eye candy. Hackers can easily generate their SSL certificates that look real by using tools online. If the web address is not prefixed with “https://,” then you should avoid it.

Look for broken images and missing contact information.

A very common practice by scam sites is to have a page full of product photos but no way to purchase the item. They’re just teasing you with all those nice products on display, but they’ll never let you buy anything from them. In addition, these websites usually don’t have a company name or a phone number shown in the contact information. So if you notice that there is no way to get in touch with the website owners, then it’s best not to take any chances and look for another site to buy from.

Sites with generic names should be avoided.

If the domain name for a website has a very common word such as “shop,” “sale,” or “deals,” then there’s a good chance that it’s just disguising itself as an online store to get your business. They will either sell you lower-quality items at higher prices, or they will send you nothing at all. Instead, look out for website names that are more personalized to their brand.

Look at social media websites for reviews.

If the company has a Twitter handle or Facebook page, check it out to see if posts about their latest products or deals. If there are several posts with little to no likes or shares likely, the website doesn’t have many customers. Alternatively, if they have many followers and comments with people saying how happy they are with their purchase, then this is an encouraging sign that you can trust them as well.

An industry expert Andrew Drow, COO at Cloom, shares his thoughts on the matter:

“It’s difficult to avoid fraudulent websites these days, but you can take a number of steps before making purchases online. Some things to look out for are misspellings in URLs and websites that do not have SSL certificates. If an e-commerce site does not have a certificate with the green bar at the top then you should do your best to avoid it.

Another industry expert Dan Close, Founder, and CEO at We Buy Houses in Kentucky, add:

“Every website should use SSL certificates to encrypt traffic between the browser and server. If these are not in place, hackers may have intercepted your login details or other sensitive information. Also, avoid sites with generic URLs like “deals” or “sales.” Scammers easily spoof these.”

As you can see, there are several ways to spot a fraudulent website. For example, if the online store is not asking for payment information at the very end of checkout, then it’s best to turn around and find another company. Checking these tips before making purchases will help to ensure that your money stays in your wallet instead of going into cybercriminal pockets.

How can you stay secure?

To avoid falling victim to online scams, follow these 3 basic security tips:

Use different passwords for each website.

This is probably one of the most common mistakes that people make when keeping their accounts secure.

Change passwords after every use.

Even if you don’t notice any suspicious activity, changing your login credentials will help to ensure that your account is safe and sound.

Use a VPN (Virtual Private Network).

This will encrypt all of your important data while it travels across the web, keeping you safe from keyloggers and other cybercriminals.

By following the above tips, you will be able to steer clear of websites attempting to scam you and your information while also protecting your sensitive personal data. To learn more on online security, visit

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