The Internet is going crazy!
If you’re anything like the majority of people reading this article right now, you probably spend a lot of time online. The internet is a truly amazing place and it’s only getting more so as time progresses. The popularity of e-commerce platforms has added to the comfort but in there lies the menace, the counterfeiters. There are a lot of bad actors out there looking to take advantage of unsuspecting users. They may not always try to loot your money, some may trick you to obtain your personal information. The fake websites posing as genuine e-commerce platforms has become a curse to the online marketplace and the innocent consumers.
That being said, now is not the time for being naive and in order to stay safe from all the fake websites that are out there today, you need to know what to look for. After all, if someone wants to take advantage of you or lure you into giving up your sensitive information, it makes sense that they would do it with as little resistance as possible.
So if you don’t want to be a victim of the next cyber attack, keep your heads up and watch for these signs.
Check for a valid SSL certificate
When you connect to a website, you send out information regarding your device (name, address, etc.), your browser, and the website that you’re visiting. Because of this, it’s only natural to be cautious and make sure that the site you’re visiting has been properly certified. A valid SSL certificate means the site uses an encrypted connection to keep your information safe. More often than not, fake websites will not have a valid SSL certificate. This is because it’s not just the certificate that’s important but the encryption that it’s using. An unencrypted connection leaves far too much room for someone to see what’s being sent out. So next time you type a website or click a link to open a website, check whether a lock symbol is present on the address bar near the URL. If it is present, the site is secure, if not, don’t go that way.
Be wary of site spelling and grammar
Whenever you visit a site see what they have written on their homepage or any other page. Evaluate their written content. Because most real brands or the websites they own give extra care to what is being projected to their audience. They don’t want to be trolled for their grammar or spelling mistakes. You won’t be able to see even a mistake in the punctuation. They also keep the site updated with the latest news. But the scammers won’t give much attention to making their content eye pleasing. So if a site contains mistakes in its content, mainly sentence structure, grammar, punctuation or even spelling, stay away from them. It applies the same for websites which try to replicate the domain name of an original brand. They may change one or two letters from the original and unaware customers may fall for the trap. A fake website may even try to disguise its location with odd spelling and grammar. This is often done to make it difficult to identify the site’s true location. These apply to even non-English websites as well.
Ask yourself “Why” before “How”
When you’re opening a new website, you should always ask yourself why you want to interact with that website. If you are looking for a specific buy, say a product or a service, ask why you chose that particular site. This can come in very handy while weeding out the fakes from the original websites. A fake website may have an interesting name, one that could create trust in you, but keep your eyes open. It's just a name so don’t fall for their flashy and catchy taglines as well. Check whether the website actually serves a purpose. Look at other pages on the website and see if it is complete or makes sense. Most times, scammers wouldn’t pay much time to make every page as beautiful as the most important one, like the shopping page or the homepage.
The pop-up payment question!
Fake websites are made with one intention. To scam people! Maybe they need your personal information or your money. Such websites will have plenty of areas for you to type in your payment information. They would have sketchy products listed and will immediately ask for payment before you give out any other information. They will also use pop-up payment options which is a way of forcing the user to pay without their knowledge. Keep your eyes open for such payment scams.
Check their social handles
One thing every website would definitely hold on to is its social media handles. They would surely incorporate their social media information into their websites. Be it Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Behance or LinkedIn handles, you will surely see these icons or links that you should definitely check when browsing a new website. Because scammers won’t bother to create social handles for their fake websites. Even if they have one, keep checking their posts. If it is made just for a show, flag it as a scam. You can live without them.
Look out for suspicious marketing tactics
Now that you know that the site you’re on is safe, you want to make sure that the site is legitimate. When you do this, you want to make sure that you’re not falling for any type of marketing trick. One of the most obvious signs that a website is trying to trick you is if they keep boasting about the product or service as the ‘best in the world’ or the ‘only product in the world’. If you try to buy something from such websites, you won’t be likely to get what you paid for. Another thing to look out for is if the website is trying to sell you something that’s way overpriced. This is a common trick that many legitimate websites use to trick you into thinking that they’re legit but, in fact, they’re not.
Look at the design of the website
Most websites will be updated to the newest version. They would have a modern design, a custom and brand-oriented colour palette or even a brand staple font and image. See if they are consistent throughout their website. every page and post should follow the same style sheet which can help you to keep the brand image live. Fake websites won’t do that. The images uploaded won’t be of good quality, the font won’t be consistent around the pages and the design and theme will seem off-putting. So follow your gut feeling and trust your eyes when browsing a new website.
Don't be the victim
If you’re blindly following someone's instructions to visit a website or buy from it, then you should probably reevaluate your situation. While it may feel good to believe in nothing but your current beliefs, the world is a crazy place and sometimes you just need to accept that and move on. So if someone called you or texted you a link and asked you to click on it or to check the site. Don’t do it. If you don’t know them or if you are not sure of them, please don’t. You are not just falling into a trap but creating a space for the scammers to fool more innocent people. So think twice before you do anything on the internet.