The world has gone digital. As good as technology may be, it doesn’t guarantee that everything is genuine. While there are plenty of legitimate websites, there are just as many fake websites out there as well. Many scammers create fake websites in an attempt to trick you into thinking they’re a legitimate business. Here are seven of the top signs you’ve found a fake website:
#1: The URL is suspicious
There are two ways a URL can be suspicious. First, check to see if the webpage is secure by looking for “https://” in the URL. The “s” in “https://” means the website is secure, while websites beginning with only “http://” can be a red flag that the website is not safe. A website beginning with “http://” doesn’t mean it’s a scam, but it should be treated with caution and examined before proceeding.
Second, examine the spelling of the URL. If the website is made to imitate a large company’s site, their URL may be similar but very slightly different. For example, a scammer adds an extra letter to a similar URL such as “www.paypall.com” with the extra L. These slight differences are designed to be easily overlooked but can be identified by close examination.
#2: There are spelling errors and incorrect grammar
If there are spelling or grammar errors on the website, especially if they’re obvious errors, it could indicate that the website is a scam. A legitimate company website would have an editor checking for those errors before publishing. If there are misspellings and poor grammar, especially if they’re obvious, such as “your” instead of “you’re” or “there” instead of “their”, it could indicate that the website is not legitimate.
#3: Navigation links are broken or not hyper-linked at all
Browse through the website and try clicking different navigation links. Oftentimes these links will appear to be active, but they do not work or redirect you back to the home page or other pages. A fake website doesn’t need an “Our Story” section, they just need to seem like they have one and the link is simply broken.
#4: It’s difficult to find accurate contact information
Look around the website for names and email addresses. Are there pictures of these individuals? Do they look like actual people or just images pulled from Google? Oftentimes there will be one generic email address or simply a contact form to get in touch. If they seem difficult to contact, it’s for a reason.
#5: They provide exaggerated claims that seem too good to be true
Scammers will make any claim they need to in order to persuade you to send them your money. Beware of any claims that guarantee financial reward or alleged algorithms designed to make you money fast as those neither of those are legitimate claims. Investments are never a guarantee. Any individual or company that claims to have a special algorithm to make money is almost certainly a scam.
#6: The customer reviews are fake
Check out their testimonials section and read the reviews from prior customers. Pay attention to the writing styles of these customers and their language patterns. Do they sound like something an actual person would say? Many times scammers can use artificial intelligence (AI) to write testimonials for them.
#7: They’re asking for your financial information
Stealing your money is the end goal of scammers. If someone is asking for your financial information online, do not give it out. Be wary of anyone asking for your financial information online or in-person without a legitimate reason.
This is not a conclusive list of signs of a fake website, but by having an understanding of what these red flags are, we’re afforded a measure of protection from fake websites of our own accord. The more we know about fake websites, the better equipped we are to navigate the rough waters of the digital world.