The internet is a cruel mistress that can chew up and spit out even the initiated when we drop guard. Sometimes, websites aren’t what they seem to be – people spend a lot of time and resources imitating legit services in order to commit fraud or for other nefarious reasons.
Scams are plentiful online so it’s important for you to know how to check if a website is legit or not. If you’re reading this because you’ve been scammed or are cautious that it might happen to you, you’re certainly not alone there.
The Dangers Of A Scam Website
When you look at the numbers, you’ll find that the amount of scams out there online is actually quite disturbing. For example, anyone who uses dating websites should be able to identify a scam profile, or has at least seen some in their time online. That’s because 1 in 10 profiles is a scam. And this isn’t the only place you need to look – just check your spam folder in your email inbox. In 2019 alone, phishing attempts rose by 65%; imposter fraud is responsible for just shy of $500 million each year. The list really does go on.
There are steps you can take, as an everyday internet user, to know how to tell if a website is legit, as well as protect yourself and ensure you’re never made a victim of fraud or hacking.
12 Ways To Check If A Website Is Legit
1. Check URLs Carefully:
Sometimes, it can be all too easy to mistype or fail to notice the slightest difference from a legit URL. That’s precisely what scam sites are banking on here. Many sites are made to perfectly mimic the real Facebook, for example, in order to phish your details. Use a scam website checker if you’re ever unsure.
2. SSL Certificates:
An SSL certificate is what gives you the little padlock in the top left of your URL bar. It’s also what turns a website from HTTP to HTTPS. All eCommerce, online banking, social media sites – or any that wants to be trustworthy – will have an SSL certificate. HTTPS is much more secure and should appease anyone wondering ‘is this website legit?’. Sites like Payback can help should you fall foul to a broker that doesn’t have SSL encryption, for example.
3. View Certificate Details:
If you want to see for yourself if an SSL certificate is legit, you need only click the padlock in the URL bar and hit ‘View Certificate’. This will show you when the certificate was added to the website. And for added peace of mind, this can’t be faked – it’s displayed by your browser and added by the site’s hosting company.
4. Check Contact Information:
No scam website is going to give out their own contact information, but go careful: they’ll likely use the same details of the site they’re the impostor of. You can always use these details to verify the website for yourself, or simply run the URL checker for a proper website review.
5. Read The About Us Page:
Companies like to scream from the rooftops about their heritage, as well as the journey that led them to where they are now. Even if they haven’t been live long, you’ll still find it there. The absence of this information is a massive red flag – you’ll likely want to avoid that website.
It’s common to not read privacy policies – we’re all guilty of it. But if you’re doubting the integrity of a website, you should check to see if it even has one. If it does, read it. You’ll soon find out whether a website is authentic or not when you see how the owners approach legalese.
7. Read Online Reviews:
Word of mouth is a powerful thing, and people like to share their experiences – often, it’s to vent, not to warn others. But a lot can be learned by what other people have to say about your suspected scammer, so check popular review websites.
8. Can The Site Be Verified On Social Media?:
Social presence is important for building an audience or readership, and can do wonders for online popularity. That isn’t to say every company or site owner has social profiles but plenty to do. Check popular social media sites and see how active their profiles are, as well as when they were established.
9. Look For Trust Badges:
Trust badges offer a surefire way for websites to prove their legitimacy. All major eCommerce websites will have them, displayed pride of place so as not to prevent any potential sales. They’re also used to promote USPs. Be sure that these can be verified, however.
10. Check Domain Ages:
The length of domain ownership can show you not only when it was purchased but also when since when it was made active. What’s more, you can see the platform that hosts it, and look to verify this also. Use a domain checker to learn all you need to.
11. Spelling and Grammar:
The longer a scammer spends on the finer details, the longer they have to wait to unleash their scam. Plus, the teams running these nefarious websites are often small, so the small details like spelling and grammar tend to be overlooked. You wouldn’t see a spelling mistake on your online banking platform, would you?
12. If It Doesn’t Seem Right, Don’t Risk It:
For all the reasons above, and any others you can think of – gut feeling, even- don’t bother with it. Anything you’re looking for can be found elsewhere anyway, whether it’s online shopping, social media, news, or anything else.
What To Do If You Get Scammed
If you find that you’ve been scammed by a website, whether it’s a forex broker, binary options scammer, or any other type of fraud, get your free consultation with Payback today. We’ll swiftly get to work on your case, pulling together the evidence before seeking to get your money back.