Fake websites are created by scammers to trick you into sharing your sensitive information (like account passwords or financial data), downloading malware, or buying products that don’t exist. They often look like the real deal, especially when used as part of phishing attacks or text message scams from the Department of Motor Vehicles.
Check the website’s domain name
Fake websites are created to look like reputable companies in order to trick people into revealing their personal information or passwords. Often, they can also contain malware that will infect your device or steal data from it.
One way to spot a fake website is by looking at the domain name. Fake websites often have typos and poor spelling, as well as phrases that don’t sound right. Additionally, fake sites often use shortened URLs (to hide the real web address) to make them appear more legitimate.
Another thing to look for is how long the website has been online. A fake website will usually be created quickly and will only remain online for a few weeks or months at most before it’s taken down. You can check how old a website is by using a domain tracker or Whois Lookup tool. This will show you the date and time when the domain was registered. The older the domain, the more likely it is to be legit.
Check the website’s URL
It’s important to check the website’s URL, because fake websites tend to change addresses often. A good way to do this is by typing the domain name into a search engine. If the results return a number of different websites Visit Is Legit or Scam that all have the same content, this is a red flag.
Another thing to look for is how old the domain is. Fake websites are rarely online for very long, so it’s easy to tell if one is a scam by checking its age.
Finally, pay attention to the website’s language. If the site’s copy has a lot of spelling mistakes, poor grammar, or awkward phrases, this is a red flag. Legitimate sites typically have writers and editors who prevent these kinds of mistakes. Also, watch out for pixelated images and awkward visual designs.
Check the website’s content
Fake websites come in a variety of forms, including standalone sites, popups, and unauthorized overlays on legitimate websites (aka clickjacking). No matter their presentation, their goal is always the same: to lure users into giving up their personal or financial information or downloading malware.
Some scam websites are obvious, like fake password login pages used in phishing attacks to steal your real account passwords or money. Other sites, like online stores with too-good-to-be-true deals or fake Department of Motor Vehicles text message scams, use social engineering to incite urgency and fear to get you to act without thinking critically.
You can check a website’s content by searching for its text on a search engine. If you find identical results or the site’s text appears blurry or pixelated, it’s probably a fake. You can also look up the website’s owner to see how long it has been active. Oftentimes, fake websites don’t stay up for very long.
Check the website’s security
A website’s security is an important indicator of its authenticity. Look for a padlock icon next to the uniform resource locator (URL) – this indicates that it is encrypted, meaning that any information you send to the website can’t be intercepted by hackers.
However, it is worth noting that scammers are able to forge these padlocks, so it doesn’t necessarily mean the website is safe. It is also worthwhile checking whether the site has a trust seal – this is often supplied by reputable trade organisations, so it can be a good sign.
Finally, it is worth checking the website’s security by looking for signs of malware. For example, if the website appears to be downloading software to your device, this is likely a bad sign and should be reported to the website owner. Also, if the website includes links to Twitter or Facebook pages, check these websites’ reputations to ensure they are legitimate. Finally, if the website contains a lot of spelling and grammar mistakes, this is another warning sign.