5 ways to determine if a site is fake,fraudulent or a scam

In today’s day and age where people have access to everything on the tip of their fingertip, there are a lot of cons that come in with it as well. The world has digitalized tremendously. Be it the Education Industry, Fashion Industry, Technology industry or any other as a matter of fact. These technological advancements and shifts also bring with them potent threats. We have come to a consensus that everything that is on the internet and the web is “legit” or real. 

Well, this is mostly true, but you cannot blindly trust everything visible on the internet to be legitimate. Multiple Companies, individuals and agencies have been misusing digital platforms and the internet. Today there are so many open sources freely accessible. Literally anyone can look up some videos on YouTube and read a few articles and boom, your website is up and running. The question is, how, many of these websites are real. Majority of them are fake, fraudulent or a scam. It is estimated that by 2018 Cybercrime will be a $1.5 trillion industry. Really, what it all boils down to are scams and frauds. These hackers and cybercriminals are way beyond than new age con men.

5 ways in which you can identify Fake, Fraudulent or Scam websites:

1. Pay Close Attention to the URL

You would be absolutely amazed to know how many people pay very slight or no attention to the address bar or URL of their browser. This is a blunder. The address bar contains a lot of important information with respect to where you are and what are you exactly looking for.

In fact, the majority of the browsers abide by a concept called the Line of Death. The motive behind this concept is that a user should never trust anything below a certain point on the web browser. A cyber hacker can control everything and anything as long as it is below the line and sometimes some things above it as well. So make sure you know where to look for reliable and relevant information. A lot of fraudulent websites will use a domain name that references or trackbacks to well-established brands. You will fall prey to this, but this is not an official website in reality.

For example, website domains such as www.iphoneoffers.net or www.Zaraclothessale.com should red flags in your mind. You should also be extremely careful of domains that end in .net or .org, as they are not generally used for online shopping. So avoid shopping for products from here.

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2. Browse and thoroughly research the website

Take a few minutes to cross-check the site. Maybe visit the Main page, homepage or the ‘’About us’’ section on their website. Look out for poor English. This includes grammatical errors, spelling mistakes or inappropriately used phrases. It indicates that the site isn’t legit/real and was developed by a few people or an individual to make quick money. You should also check if the website contains any contact information. All genuine sites have one if the website doesn’t have a ‘Contact us’ page, it could well be fraudulent. 

If the site does have the ‘Contact us’ section or is just asking you to fill out a form with your personal information, avoid visiting them. Any company offering goods/services and products should contain some addresses, emails and contact numbers for the customers queries to be answered and know more about the company.

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3. Read a variety of Online Reviews

Look at reviews across a number of social media platforms and the internet, such as Trustpilot, Sitejabber, or Feefo which have a varied collection of customer reviews. Don’t look at just one website when it comes to reviews. Make sure you go through a good number of websites and the reviews on them.

Facts are an essential element in a review. Don’t trust a review if facts or actionable information is very low on the ground. Similarly, a review that gives no personal views and is all praise about the company or product is mostly fake. You should also check the company’s social media pages for all of their recent activity and to see what other individuals are posting on their social channels.

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4. Always look for a Padlock

A padlock near the website’s URL means the site is encrypted, ie secured. So the activities you carry out on it, such as browse or make transactions, can’t be intercepted or traced down. Most websites presently have this feature, so if you notice a site that lacks a padlock could be an alarming bell. However, today scammers or cyber attackers are able to replicate/forge or purchase these padlocks. Hence even if the websites have one it does not always mean a website is secure to use. Checking for a padlock should just be one of the safety checks to look for along with the others mentioned.

5. When the services provided are too good to be true

When you see websites offering heavy discounts and selling products at extremely low rates, you should be suspicious. Fake/Fraud websites use cheap prices to attract audiences that love bargaining and buying things at low rates. Always look out for websites that provide in-limit discounts or sell at rates that are aligned with other brands as well. 

The times are testing, and it may not always be possible to identify websites that are fake, fraudulent or a scam. However, the above-stated methods can surely prevent you from falling prey to these cybercriminals to a certain extent.

Dhairya Gangwani
Dhairya Gangwani
I am a 4th-year electronics and communication undergraduate at the Vellore Institute of Technology, Vellore. I love interacting with people and travelling. I joined Toastmasters international at my university, which helped me discover my love for public speaking and eventually writing. I believe being able to pen down your thoughts and express yourself is a wonderful thing and this led me to dive into content writing.

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