Most people use the Internet to search for products and find legitimate sites that offer these products. But over the years, fraudulent websites have become a problem. These websites come as close to being identical to the “real” website as possible. They mislead consumers so they think they are browsing a real site when they are actually on a fraudulent website. So, how do you spot a fraudulent website?
Look for the HTTPS.
If you visit a website that you think may be fraudulent, look at the URL bar at the top of your browser window. If it begins with “http://” instead of “https://” then it is not secure and you should avoid entering any data or making purchases there. This means that anyone could be watching your activity while on that site – whether it be someone trying to steal your credit card information or another malicious party using it as a way to infect your computer with malware in order to steal personal information from your computer (such as passwords).
Check out reviews.
If you are looking for someplace to buy something online and have never heard of this company or product before, check out reviews from other customers first. If other people have already purchased from this company and have had a good experience with it then chances are you will too. If not, there might be something wrong with them or their products that you need to know about before placing your order. If there are no reviews or online presence outside of their website, it’s likely a fraudulent website.
See if there is a phone number listed.
If you can find a phone number on the website, call it and see if it matches up with what is listed on the website. Some scammers will list an actual number but it is not theirs, while others will make up fake numbers and use them on their site. If you cannot find a phone number listed at all, this may be a sign of fraudulence as well (since most companies do list their contact information).
See if there is a physical address listed.
A lot of fraudulent websites don’t list an address where you can contact them or reach out to them in any way. The only way you can find out more information about them is by going through an email address or phone number listed on the site and seeing if it leads to someone who works at that company or if it leads to another website altogether. If there is no physical address listed, it’s best not to buy anything off their site.
Check the website to see if it is well-written and professional or not.
If the website is riddled with spelling, grammar, and writing errors, then it’s likely a fraudulent website. The content should be easy to understand and professional if they are a legitimate business. If there are many spelling errors on the site, then it could be another sign of a scammer trying to make themselves look credible with their fake reviews and testimonials that say how wonderful their products are, but when you look closer at them all of these reviews seem very similar in style and wording which can be very suspicious.
Beware of very low offers or deals that are too good to be true.
If you see an offer on a website that seems too good to be true then it probably is! If someone is offering something for free then there must be some sort of catch involved somewhere down the line. For example, if someone offers you something for free then where are they getting it from? Are they stealing from someone else? Or perhaps they aren’t even selling anything at all and instead stealing credit card details from unsuspecting victims who enter their bank details into their phishing site.
Fraudulent products and websites are an unfortunate part of the internet landscape, but this doesn’t mean that you should completely avoid online shopping altogether. Follow some of the tips we shared above and you’ll be able to defend yourself from scammers and fraudsters better than most. In the end, it’s also important to remember that no one is completely invulnerable—don’t be afraid to take extra precautions when needed or when possible. Remember, if the situation feels off or seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Wanted: The Truth
Active Intel Investigations is here to help you with every aspect of your investigation, from conducting the investigation to preparing evidence to provide it in court.
Get started with your investigation, browse our video library for investigative resources, or schedule a no-obligation consultation with a licensed private investigator to discuss the specifics of your case.