SUMMARY: More than 75 percent of Americans shop online. For the most part, those people can protect themselves from scams and fraud by only buying items from reliable websites like Amazon and eBay,
Unfortunately, some hackers build fake websites that attempt to trick consumers into providing private information like their credit card and account numbers. Some hackers even make sites that look similar to Amazon and eBay because they want to trick more online shoppers.
You can protect yourself by learning how to identify fake websites. Once you learn how to spot them, you can keep yourself and your computer secure.
Inaccurate Domain Names
Fake websites often try to imitate the domain names of legitimate companies. For instance, instead of www.nastygal.com, the domain might say www.nastygirl.com or www.nattygirl.com.
It's easy to miss small changes in a company's name, so you have to pay close attention when you shop.
Also, look for websites that start with HTTPS instead of HTTP. HTTPS doesn't guarantee safety, but most sites that have it use encryption to protect your information.
Unprofessional English and Graphics
The people who design fake websites often live in other countries. These people may speak some English, but they aren't fluent and they certainly can't write like the professionals who work for large e-commerce sites.
If you notice unprofessional, confusing or inaccurate language, then you should assume that the website is fake.
Unprofessional graphics and designs should also make you wary. Successful online stores spend a lot of money hiring graphic designers and coders to build beautiful, intuitive sites that people want to use. Most scammers don't have the right skills to develop attractive websites. If they could build real sites, then they probably wouldn't have to work as scammers.
You can save a lot of money by shopping online. Some online stores have daily deals that lower the prices of certain items by 50 percent or more.
Incredible discounts from a site that you know give you an opportunity to save money. An incredible discount from a website that you just found, however, could be a scam that wants to steal your private information.
If you think that a deal is too good to be true, then you should walk away from it. It's not worth the risk.
Strange Contact or Customer Service Information
Trustworthy e-commerce stores promote themselves by putting their names in their email addresses and giving customers easy access to services.
Fake websites rarely take the time and effort to do these things. Instead of having an email like email@example.com, they may use addresses like firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Many of the fake sites also lack information about customer services. A normal online store will encourage you to communicate with sales reps. A fake site, however, hopes that you won't notice the absence of a customer service hotline or email address. It may not even list the company's business hours or phone number.
Fake websites have become serious threats to online security. Some of the sites will tempt you to provide sensitive information that makes it possible for criminals to steal your identity. Others install malicious software on your computer. The malware can work quietly in the background, gathering information about you or performing illegal tasks that take up your precious bandwidth.
Don't become another victim. If you see any signs of fake website, navigate away as quickly as possible.