Website building has become so self-guided that it no longer takes an expert to create a beautifully designed, professional site. And although that is excellent news for business owners around the nation, it can be a nightmare for consumers around the globe. With so many tools available, you don’t have to be a genius to duplicate an existing site. Or, to create a webpage that looks reputable. But that has opened a whole new avenue for hackers to steal your personal information and data. Do you know these red flags that signal a scam website?

How it all Works

There are many ways that hackers use fake websites to gain access to your information. Although the most popular way is to send you an email that looks like it came from a credible site, there are other ways that you might not know of. And millions of people are giving their financial information out without even knowing. An email typically shows up in your inbox warning you of a threat of security. And it comes with a convenient link to sign in and see what the problem is. The real problem, however, is that the link isn’t real. And the worst part is that when you attempt to sign in, the creators have all the information that they need to access your accounts and wreak havoc. 

Not all Things Found on the Web are Trustworthy!

When you do an organic search, most people assume that the first websites that pop up are credible. After all, they couldn’t be on top if they were a scam! Unfortunately, that type of trust is causing millions of people heartache. Mistaking a fraudulent site for the real deal can get you in a whole lot of trouble! If you aren’t sure what to look for, getting scammed is easier than you think.

What are the Red Flags that Signal a Scam Website?

Spelling or Grammar Issues

Most fraudulent websites, with the sole intention of scamming you, are made by foreign companies or hackers that aren’t very interested in things like grammar and spelling. So, if you see spelling errors or spacing issues with a website, it is best to err on the side of caution. It is safe to assume that a reputable site would, at a minimum, check spelling and grammar. Other important red flags to watch for are:

Address bar Differences

A website that starts with http:// rather than https:// doesn’t always mean that it is a scam website, but the likelihood is much greater. That extra “s” at the end stands for “secure”. So try to avoid sites that don’t start with https://. If you aren’t sure, use the Google’s safe site search to check a URL before you input any data.

Check the Domain Name

Scammers are notorious for using large company domain names that have omitted just one letter, or use a zero instead of the letter O (as in Oscar). They count on the fact that most of us are accustomed to seeing a name and won’t recognize if just a little part of it isn’t 100% correct. And too often it works!

Look at the Domain Age

Seasonally, scam websites pop up more frequently, like around the holidays when more people are using e-commerce sites for shopping. If you are concerned about the security of a website, look up the domain age to see how long it has been around. You can also do a WHOIS lookup, which will tell you when the domain was first created, and possibly who the domain is registered to, and where the domain registrant resides. If you browse to https://whois.net and type in crosslinkconsulting.net, you will see a Creation Date of May 3, 2004. Yes, we’ve been serving the CSRA for over 15 years!

Check the Reliability of the Contact Info

There are often many ways to contact a company or business. See if all the avenues to contact them are all operational. If you try to phone or chat with them, and it is not a working number, that is a big red flag.

Things Seem Too Good to be True, They Are

If a commerce site is offering you a deal that you can’t pass up, pass it up. Merchandise, or offers that are outside of the realm of realistic, are either trying to get your personal information, or the merchandise isn’t real, or it will never really arrive!

To coincide with Amazon Prime Day, there’s been a recent spike in activity to scam people via a fake website designed to look like Amazon. One you enter your credentials, your account has been compromised.  But you should always be on the lookout for an offer that’s too good, or doesn’t look 100% correct, or contains spelling mistakes – definitely pass on this bogus opportunity! At Cross Link, our goal is to educate our clients about the many ways you can be scammed on the internet.

You don’t have to be a genius to design a fake website! But you do have to think shrewdly to avoid getting suckered!  Look for the red flags indicating that a website is a scam, and adopt a healthy amount of skepticism toward every online “deal”.