With thousands of scam websites and online stores, it’s become a necessity to find the legit and secure online. There is no need to waste your time with websites that bombard you with ads and offers. Or in many times, they can run away with your money, simply, because, you couldn’t determine the legitimacy of the site.
Of course, they are many ways to do that, and today, I’ll show you how to know if a website is safe and credible, and what you can do to avoid the scammers.
Check websites for safety, scam, and malware
1. Check the website look
This is the first and the easiest way to know if a website is a scam or legit. Take a look at the layout of the website, does it look professional? Well organized?
If you find lots of ads and advertising, then, probably, the website is affiliated with companies and it provides nothing as a value in the end. Also, the site can be a scam or unsecure. Additionally, find the about and contact pages and read them. Trusted website will tell the world about them and even they add real pictures.
2. Check the “contact” and “about” pages
When it comes to the contact page, make sure that the website list a phone number and that’s valid. If you’re in the US for example, and you see a number in another country, try calling the number or at least check its validity. Lots of scam website adds fake phone numbers on their website and you have to be careful with that.
Example: PayPal is a trustworthy and secure online payment solution. When you visit their website, you’ll find everything you need to know about them and the phone numbers. Also, their design looks professional, well-organized and clear.
The team photos are a great indication of legitimacy and trust. Also, when you click the contact link at heir website footer, you’ll find ways to reach them by phone, emails and more.
3. Verify the phone number
If everything looks professional and you found a phone number, then, verify it using one of the free online tools. I found a free phone number verification tool called TextMagic, just enter the number and select the country. The tool can help identifying fake website phone numbers.
4. Investigate the domain name
Every domain is linked to one or more individual or even organizations. So, when you find that a website look professional, but you still hesitated about making a purchase, then, verify the identity of the owner. I highly recommend this method for people who shop for websites they never used before.
There is a service called Who Is that lets you run a reverse domain name lookup. So, you can find the real owner, the email address, the locations and more details. That’s only available if the domain name detail is visible to the public. Domain name registrars have options to hide the detail and they show their own details instead of the real owner.
But anyway, if you want to find who is the person behind a web store you want to buy from, use this domain lookup tool. Enter the domain name you want or even the IP address of the website and you’ll get the details.
Please take your online safety seriously, there are many cases when people lost their most important data. The reason can be many, but the main are online scams.
5. Search with Google
To check the website reputation, Google it, type the exact domain and search. To make the search even better, use terms like “scam”, “fraud”, or “trust” with your search. That gives better results f the website is a scam.
To go further, you can find more about the company profile and location with reviews. Google is the best way to do that. Here is an example, of a good company, if I Google it, I see the company details.
To start with the Website safety check, look if you can find SSL on website address or not. SSL is the certificate of security that the website uses to encrypt the connection between your web browser and the servers. Indeed, SSL is one of the best ways to know that an online transaction is secure and authorized or not.
You can determine if a website uses SSL or not by looking in the URL bar of the browser. It’s a Green lock in Google chrome, and a lock in Safari. It looks like the below example of the Amazon website.
This is how it looks in Google chrome:
When you click on that SSL icon, you’ll get details about the certificate. That means all connections will be encrypted, and that’s including your credit card details.
7. Check website trust
To tell if a website is legit or not, you need to search for any seal or badges. These are small icons that trusted companies use to show that a website is a registered a business or that web store is secure and trustworthy. The Baymard research center does a great statistic about them and what website seals that people trusted the most.
The following screenshot is an example of a few website seals. When visiting websites and find similar icons in their footer, click on it. If it forward you to the website verification page, then, it’s trusted, on the other side, if nothing happens, then, probably, it’s just a small image that they put to fake the trust.
8. Check the website for malware and virus
The Google safe browsing diagnostic tool is the best solution to protect your browser and computer if you’re not sure is a website is safe or not. All you need to do is visit the safe browsing tool page, then, type in the URL of the exact website you want and then, click the search button.
Google as the biggest search engine has the largest database of domains, and when a website got hacked or if the site is dangerous, Google will show the alert.
This powerful Url scanner works also in Google Chrome and it’s updated daily. So, thousands of unsecure websites will be added to the list and others will be removed because they fixed their security problems.
Also, you can use any free online website malware scanner. They work by scanning the domain name, but that may take some time and Google is the best solution for that.
How to tell if a link is safe?
Eve, if everything looks good, sometimes, you can get verification links that scammers use. So, instead of clicking any email link you get, you can verify the link first. The best thing is that you can check the URL safety even without clicking on it, just copy and paste the URL in any URL scanner tool (Please use right-click and then click to avoid clicking the URL). To name a few, virustotal, and urlvoid are the best.
If you receive a shortened URL like TyniURL or others, make sure to scan them with one of the above tools. You don’ know what’s the real web address behind those links. I hope this can help in protecting you from online scams.