Best Ways To Tell If A Website Is Fake

Many college students don’t bother to go to the library to get information from books these days. In fact, many just opt to use the information that is presented online. One point of caution though is that not all websites out there with information are legitimate.

Not only are these websites unsafe for doing your research but many of them will steal your personal information whilst others are packed with viruses that could harm your device. I will be highlighting you on the Top 10 things that you should look for which will aid you in identifying whether a website is fake. 

What Is Phishing?

The term “Phishing” came from the word “Fishing” which involves using baits to catch fish. Online phishing occurs when fake websites decide to imitate banks and legitimate financial business in acquiring personal information.

These sites will make replicas of original brand sites and ask for your personal information online. They generally seek to get your:

  • Passwords
  • Card information
  • Passport number
  • ID numbers
  • Driver’s license
  • Birthdays etc.

As soon as they get their hands on this information they carry out fraudulent activities such as making transfers or purchases from your account.

There is no need to give this information online if when you opened your account the financial institution already had copies of these. It may even be taking surveys or getting an email that resembles that of your bank asking you to reset your password.

#1 Check For The Company Contact Detail

Look to see if the company provides an email, telephone number or office address. Legitimate companies usually have this information readily available to the public. You can check for a physical address by using Google Maps as well. If it smells fishy do not be afraid to call and ask them about their business and what they offer. 

#2 Look for The Padlock

Once the website accepts money payment there should be a padlock in the top left-hand corner of the URL. The color is normally green. This would prove that the site is encrypted and is safe to browse and make payments. They would have obtained an SSL certificate and all customer information is kept safe.

Added to that, look for the “S” in the HTTPS of the site URL/ website address. Many websites do not have the “S” on it. Those that are recognized to be legit by Google and other search engines usually have it. 

Looking for the padlock with other mentioned elements is a must. Scammers have found ways to purchase this and place on their sites so this should not be the only thing you look for.

#3 Look For Trusted Seals

Once a website has invested in the security of the customer you are likely to see a form of seal on the website. This is mainly purchased for websites that require you to be logged in, have to check out and overall those that do monetary transactions. These may not be seen on blogs and those that don’t collect money. 

Most SSL Certificates have these seals that are displayed and they act as a reminder to visitors that the site is secured. You have the ability to click on these seals when you see them and get additional information.  

#4 Observes Spelling and Grammatical Errors

A scam website normally has misspelled words or the language written is broken. A safe website usually has good content management. Grammatical errors occur a lot of times as these persons behind the site do not speak the language and they may be using software to translate the text into the language they desire. When there are errors, they would not be able to pick this up. Excessive errors are considered to be a red flag. 

#5 Use Your Software Protect

If you are browsing with Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome then you should be protected when these browsers check the site safety.

If the site is not safe they would automatically send you a “Back to Safety Message” and let you know that if you should continue and load the page your device could be harmed. 

One of the best things you could do is respect this alert given and not proceed on the set website. 

#6 Use A Site Reputation Checker

A reputation checker will do a check on the website URL/Link. It will send you a report within seconds on whether the website has been blacklisted or been in any form of scam activity.

It will also provide you with analytics about the website such as how long it has been in existence, the server location, etc. Three sites that are useful for doing this search are URLVOID, McAfee and Google Safe Browsing

#7 Check Shipping and Return Policy

If a site is selling a product there should be a shipping and return policy. Added to that should be their Terms and Conditions. The information must be provided on how to return a faulty product.

You should know how long it will take for the product to arrive and be able to track it. There must be a return address as well. When there is no return policy or vague shipping information it is not wise to shop on such sites.

#8 Check For Reviews on the Company

A great place to check for a review of the company is with the Better Business Bureau. They check for businesses that are scams and have the public be aware of them. You can file a complaint with them and even leave a review of your own if you have experienced the product or services.

Otherwise, you can check to see the reviews from other people who have had experiences with the company. Just type in Google – Review on (company name). I myself have done a number of products and service reviews and I am able to give readers an understanding of what they should expect when starting a business online

#9 Check For a Privacy Policy

Every website should have a privacy policy. This tells you how your information is collected, used and protected by the website. All websites are required by online data privacy laws to have one. A privacy policy adds to ensuring that the website is safe. Look out for this and read it to see what you are agreeing to by being on any website.

#10 Check The Required Payment Methods

Never pay by bank transfer. If you pay by debit or credit card you can find ways of getting back your money once you can prove it wasn’t a legitimate business. With a bank transfer, there is pretty much nothing you will be able to do.

Paying through a payment processor like Paypal could also help in getting your money back. Purchasing a product from a trusted source could also be of help. Take for example buying a ClickBank product.


I sure do hope that the information provided has been useful and that you will use it to safeguard yourself from being scammed, having your information stolen or having viruses attack your device. There is no one thing to look for when deciding if a website is fake.

Combining all these elements is a sure way to be effective in your research. There are other things you can look for but as you see I have given you my Top 10.

Leave your questions and thoughts in the comments below. 



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