Scam websites are a big problem. Scammers will create fake webpages and social media accounts to lure you in, steal your money, and get away with it. These sites can do anything from stealing your personal information, selling you counterfeit products, or even tricking you into giving them your credit card number.
The best way to avoid these scams is by understanding what they look like and how to spot them. This article is about how to identify scam websites, how to avoid them and what to do about scam websites.
What is a scam website?
A scam website is a web page that convinces you to give up sensitive information like your Social Security number, credit card numbers, or passwords. They trick people into thinking the site is secure and safe when in reality it’s not.
Scam websites are often targeted at certain professions where they know there will be a lot of interest, such as doctors and lawyers.
How do you identify a scam website?
Scam websites are often easy to spot: If the deal sounds too good be true, it probably is. They prey on people who are worried about their finances and want to make money quickly or easily.
The best way to avoid these scams is by understanding what they look like and how to spot them.
There are several warning signs to look for when navigating the internet:
- Look out for popups or ads that ask you to call them back on their phone number.
- Look out for popups or ads that ask you to download software.
- If the website lets you log in, but asks for a lot of personal information like your credit card number and ID before they let you proceed, this is often an indication that it’s scamming people who are trying to make quick money from their savings.
- Any website that doesn’t provide the company name, contact information, physical address and phone number. (e.g., no name of a person you can call or email).
- A website with an unusual URL containing weird characters or numbers like “xn--pgb477f0ab16a800l.com”
- A website that looks too good to be true.
- If it sounds like a scam, think about what they might want from you in return: Your identity? Your bank account? Your ability to log in and access your email?
- If you’re not sure if it is a scam, try searching for the company name on Google or another search engine. If there are no results, this could be an indication that the website may have been recently created by scammers who want to trick people into giving them personal information.
- If you want to contact the company, look for a phone number on their website or reach out to them through email.
Online scam websites are dangerous because they can steal your money and personal information very quickly. Scammers may not only be after your financial details but also try and take control of things like your bank account or
How does a scam website exploit you?
When you visit a scam website, it may not be immediately obvious that the company is fraudulent. Scammers often use clever marketing strategies to get people on their site and convince them they are legitimate. They might mention things like instant access or exclusive deals so that users will sign up for something without knowing what they’re getting into first.
A scam website exploits you by stealing your money or personal information and giving you nothing in return.
A scam website can steal your funds for a variety of reasons, but here are some common ways it may try to do that:
- Signing you up for something without showing the cost upfront so they charge more than expected
- Putting unethical malware onto your computer
- Hacking your personal information and using it for their own benefit
- Asking you to provide sensitive personal information (such as bank account numbers, social security number, or credit card details) to complete a transaction.
What are warning signs a business is not legitimate?
Some of the warning signs that an online business is not legitimate are:
- Lacks contact details such as a physical address, phone number or email.
- Uses an unusual business name.
- Sells products with “free” shipping on its website but requires you to pay for the product before it ships out. This is usually so that they can hide what’s really going on until after your credit card information has been given away.
- Claims to be a well-established company but does not provide contact information.
- Offers you the chance at winning an expensive prize in exchange for your credit card number or other personal information. Once they have stolen enough of your sensitive data, they will close up shop and disappear before any victims even realize that anything happened.
The best way to avoid scams is to stay in contact with the company you are doing business with. Ask any questions that come up and make sure they answer them honestly before proceeding.
What are the types of scam websites?
There are many different types of scam websites, including:
- Fake phishing emails that request your personal or financial information in order to steal from you. These can be easily avoided by not responding and deleting them. Fake phishing emails, when someone impersonates a legitimate company to steal your personal or financial information, are easy to identify by their grammar and spelling errors.
- Site Misrepresentation: This is when the site you thought was reputable turns out not to be. Sometimes they will ask you for money up front before providing any services (this
- Malware website popups that look like system warnings when you visit them and ask for payment in order to remove the viruses on your computer. These can be avoided by not clicking on them and visiting a legitimate website.
- Fake auction sites that offer you an item at the lowest price possible, but require your payment information in order to complete the transaction. These can be avoided by never entering personal or financial information anywhere other than your own bank’s site or PayPal account
- Phony surveys promising great rewards for a few minutes of your time. These can be avoided by not completing them and instead reporting the scam to the site or service you were trying to use
- Fake online pharmacies that don’t require a prescription for drugs, but are in reality a front for illegal activity like drug trafficking. Beware of these because they will steal your money and send you nothing in return.
- Fake job listings that require you to pay money for work or training, but don’t provide any employment assistance. These can be avoided by not applying and instead searching the internet for more legitimate jobs through a search engine such as Monster.
- Fake contests or giveaways with no intention of actually giving away prizes to entrants. These can be avoided by not entering, then finding other ways to enter contest that are honest and straightforward about their intentions.”
- Scams on social media such as Facebook because they target the weak link between a person’s ego and their wallet. These can be avoided by not clicking links or accepting invitations from people you do not know and instead searching for posts that are more legitimate to your social media feed.
- Scams on dating websites because they target vulnerable individuals who may share personal information with a stranger in an attempt to find the love of their life but this could lead to identity theft. These can be avoided by not responding to messages from people you do not know and instead searching for someone who is more legitimate.”
How do you know if a website is legitimate?
There are certain ways one can tell whether a new online relationship, company website, or any other website is legitimate.
- The website’s URL should be typed in the address bar and not a shortened link such as “bit.ly” or “tinyurl.”.
- If you are on social media, follow the safety guidelines for that site–choose your privacy settings appropriately. For example, Facebook requires at least one picture of yourself to create an account, while Twitter does not.
- If a website seems too good to be true (free services, no shipping fees), then it probably is–be wary of these types of sites and contact the customer service department before ordering or providing any personal information.
- Search for reviews and testimonials from other users who have experienced their products and services.
- Contact the company using a contact form or email address found on their website. Don’t call them because you might get scammed by a “robo” or fake customer service representative who has no intention of helping you solve your problem.
- Look for information about how long a company has been in business, what types of customers they serve, and the employment history of their management team.
- A legitimate dating website will require that you fill out an application with personal information about yourself to create an account (things like ageer, location, education).
- If you are unsure about a website but want to use it anyway, ask for referrals from friends and family.
- If the domain ends in “.com” or “.edu” it is most likely a legitimate site.
What to do if you’re the victim of a scam website
If you are the victim of a scam website, it is important to contact your bank and credit card company. This can be done by telephoning them or going online to their websites (contact information should be listed on back of any cards).
Victims should report all incidents immediately with local law enforcement agencies as well as with federal authorities through an Internet Crime Complaint Center.
Victims should also report scam websites to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which will investigate any reports of fraud and take appropriate action.
This can be done by calling toll-free at (800) 223-4845, or visiting FTC’s website at: ftc.gov/idtheft.
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