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Is this Website Legit and Safe? 7 Ways to Determine if a Website is Fake, Fraudulent, or a Scam

is this website legit and safe

Is this website legit/safe? We ask ourselves this question when we visit any unknown site. Businesses are spending handsome amounts to improve their websites. It has helped us during the pandemic outbreak, as we could order our groceries and daily essentials online.

As visitors to websites increase, there has also been a proliferation of fake websites, and customers check website safety first. There have been too many incidents whereby people reported losing personal data to spam websites.

There were some other incidents involving fraudulent transactions that create a question on the legitimacy of a website.

Some studies show that hackers attack every 39 seconds. The hackers use the latest technology to target organizations or even individuals to get hold of personal data or undertake fraudulent transactions.

Phishing is one of the reasons that fraudulent websites are created. Phishing accounts for around 90% of data breaches.

When you visit a website, you must ask yourself – Is this website safe? Will I find the information I require? Else you could end up losing vital information or even part with some of your finances. Let us look into best tips on how to check if a website is legit.

Look for the Padlock

padlock

If you are questioning the legitimacy of a website, you must check for the trust signs. The first point to notice is whether it is an HTTPS site or not.

An HTTPS site will help by encrypting the communication that is happening with the webserver. No one can intercept the messages that are exchanged with safe websites, and the use of private keys can prevent misuse of communication. It is essential to look for the padlock icon to ensure it is a legitimate website and is protected with an SSL certificate.

There may be a mixed content error too on some sites. But is this website safe? No, it degrades the security of the site and could lead to theft of personal data.

certificate detailsIf you are trying to undertake a financial transaction on a new site, how can you check a legitimate website? You must verify the certificate details. The process to view the certificate varies across different browsers.

You must click on the padlock sign on safe websites and determine whether the certificate is still valid. You can also deep dive and look for details about the certificate and check if it is a legit website.

Look for the Trust Seal

comodo trust seal

 

The more prominent brands ensure they have a legit website. If you are planning to buy anything online, it is suggested that you visit websites with a Trust Seal. It can help end-users to understand that they are on safe websites. These seals are mainly found on the homepage and the checkout pages.

However, you must also note that anyone can take an image of this seal and place it on their website. So, how can you differentiate it from a legitimate website? You can look for further details on the Trust Seal. You can click on the seal to check website safety. Users must also know that only one Trust Seal is enough. If the site uses two or three of them, you must give a closer look at the site as these could be spam websites.

Go Through the Content

The content can also be used to verify a legit website. You must know that phishing emails will often lead you to a site that resembles one from your favorite brand. However, they may not pay too much heed to the content that goes into the various web pages. You must be aware that the website of your favorite brands is usually heavy. There are lots of web pages covering multiple products and services that they offer. It would be best if you did some research by going into most of these web pages and check if these are trusted websites.

review content

Are you asking yourself – Is this site trustworthy? Have a closer look at the logo. Is the logo of the same resolution as you have seen earlier? Is this website safe? The logos on safe websites will not look smudged. Scammers usually do not pay much heed to the pictures that they put up on spam websites. The images would be of low resolution. Also, check the content to confirm the legitimacy of a website.

If there are too many grammatical mistakes, it could be a fake website. There would be spelling mistakes and broken English that you would not find on a legit website. Are there too many popup ads, or are there too many redirects? These are also reasons to believe that you are not on a legitimate website.

Pinpointing their Social Media Credentials

social media credentialsAs most of their audience is online, renowned brands pay too much heed to have secure websites. They usually have an expert team to handle their social media channels. They try to put up engaging content and reach out to their audience. Even medium-tier and smaller brands have regular posts on their respective social media channels.

Businesses usually create their social media pages on major social media sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter. Some of them may have a robust presence on Instagram or YouTube too.

To verify the legitimacy of a website, you must check whether the social media icons are present. You may hover over the icons and check where you would be led to by the sites. You must click on the icons and check the channels whether there are frequent posts or only a dummy channel. You can also check social media reviews and go through the list of employees on LinkedIn.

Do not Click on Links Associated with Emails

phishing email

The 2020 Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR) from Verizon states that at least 22% of all data breaches in 2019 involved phishing. But what is phishing? Phishing is a process where the scamsters target normal email users through a scam email. It would generally contain an offer you would not refuse.

Users are led to spam websites where their details and user credentials are taken. Most such phishing emails also come with malware.

When you receive any threatening email stating that your banking account or credit card would be blocked, be on your guard! Most such phishing emails contain such cyber threats. Also, check for the content and the salutation. Renowned brands would be polite when communicating with you.

The email address of the sender can also give up whether the email is genuine. Emails from corporates will usually contain the name of the organization or the brand in the domain name. These emails will never come from any generic email service providers like Gmail.

Search the Website Policies

privacy policyA legit website will always have their policies listed out on the website. You may have come across a site without these policies. Is this website safe?  Ideally, the policies would be at the footer of all their web pages. It is one detail that most internet users do not check.  Most countries require businesses to pay heed to their customers’ data privacy and visitors to their websites.

Any legit website will have a data privacy policy on the website. It can be one of the ways to check website safety.

As a website visitor, you must click on the privacy policy and ascertain whether it is dubious or not. Also, check if the coordinates of the grievance officer are provided. You may look further and check whether the person is still associated with the company by searching on LinkedIn. If you are at an e-commerce company, you can also go through the delivery policy and the return policy. A genuine company will inform you about the returns process in detail.

Consult the Google Safe Browsing Transparency Report

consult the google safe browsing transparency reportNow you come to the sure-shot way to check website safety. You must have heard of the Google Safe Browsing Transparency Report. All you have to do is copy and paste the URL of the website you wish to check. It is a simple way of knowing whether to believe in a particular site. The site is not jazzy and can answer your query. Once you see the information, it will respond to your query – Is this website safe?

You may feel that the site may not be updated with all the scam websites at any moment. It is the reason we have placed it here. Once you have done all the activities mentioned above, you can check out the URL’s genuineness with this report.

Conclusion

As we move ahead with technology, we are always bitten by unscrupulous elements and hackers. But that will not diminish the benefits that websites bring to you. The question arises – how to check if a website is legit? You must safeguard yourself by entering the URL at the address bar of the web browser. In this way, you can ascertain that you are visiting a legitimate website.

Is this site trustworthy? If such a query arises in your mind, first check whether it has an SSL certificate. We have discussed different ways to verify the legitimacy of a website. I hope you will find it useful and check the website you are visiting before giving out your details or undertaking a financial transaction.

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