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Website Safety: Ways to Tell If a Website is Fraudulent

The web is rife with scammers employing

sophisticated tactics to get at your money and information. Fortunately, with protective measures, you can easily avoid unsafe websites. Here are ways to tell if a website is safe.

Look for an SSL certificate. 

Secure websites have a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL). An SSL is a digital certificate that verifies a website is authentic and will automatically encrypt all personal information and financial data. There are two primary indicators of an SSL, and both are clearly visible in the site’s URL:

  • An ‘s’ after the ‘http’
  • A padlock icon

Evaluate the URL structure.

Review the URL carefully. Are there misspelled words? Does the URL mimic a well-known site? Scammers often lure victims by creating bogus sites that look like they represent well-known companies. However, careful scrutiny of the URL will reveal basic spelling errors that give the scam away. 

Image used as a visual in the Ways To Tell If A Website Is Safe article.

Look for the company’s contact info.

Legitimate companies are eager to have you connect with them. They will display their contact info on their home page or provide a link for easy access. Scammers, on the other hand, try to keep themselves as invisible as possible. You will likely not find any tabs that say “Contact Us” or “About Us” on their website. 

Check the spelling and graphics.

Authentic companies will take the necessary steps to make a professional impression on site visitors. Scammers, on the other hand, will not. Use their carelessness to your advantage by looking out for spelling mistakes and typos throughout the site. You can also be on the lookout for cheap design elements, including recycled images and logos that are poorly created. Each of these clues can signify a fraud website. 

Heed your device’s security warnings.

If you put a site’s address into your computer, and a warning pops up alerting you that the site you are attempting to access is unsafe, do not ignore it. Unless you are absolutely sure the site is secure despite the warning, it is best to not advance to the site. 

Opt-out of sites that flood you with pop-ups.

Unsafe websites will try luring you into downloading malware through pop-ups and embedded links. Sometimes, the links will be used to generate ad revenue through clicks. Whatever the intent, it is important to know that reputable sites will not flood your screen with pop-ups and random links for you to click. If you encounter a site like this, you are likely looking at a scam. Exit the site, close your browser, and have your security system run a scan on your device.

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