Carrying out scams on the Internet is relatively simple: just register a website with false data, create an online store, “place” products at affordable prices and wait for someone to bite the bait. A lack of foresight and a minimum of distraction can therefore be fatal if for some reason you find yourself in such sites. To avoid falling into such traps scattered around the Web, therefore, it is of fundamental importance to know how to recognize and avoid fake sites created by cybercriminals.
While you are here, how about if I give you some “tips” about it and explain how to recognize a fake site? I guarantee you that you do not need to have who knows what computer knowledge to know how to do such a thing. Since your safety is at stake, I recommend that you read this guide in full: by doing so you will not be caught unprepared, and you will be able to recognize any scams perpetrated online.
Courage: make yourself comfortable, take the time you need to focus on reading the next paragraphs and, more importantly, implement the suggestions you will find in the next lines. I can assure you that at the end of the tutorial you will have much clearer ideas on how to identify fake and fraudulent sites and, if necessary, you will also be ready and willing to provide all the explanations of the case to your friends in need of receiving similar “tips”. I wish you good reading and I wish you good luck for everything!
Checking the connection type and name of a site is one of the first steps you need to take if you want to recognize a fake site. I know, it might seem “trivial” as advice: too bad, however, that the statistics regarding scams perpetrated online show that a large slice of users do not pay much attention.
I urge you, therefore, to make sure that the sites you visit, especially when you are about to shop online and / or release personal information about you, use the HTTPS protocol (HyperText Transfer Protocol over Secure Socket Layer), which indicates the presence of a secure connection (the “S“, in fact, stands for “Secure“).
Wondering how you can verify this information? Simple: just take a look at the address bar of your browser, which should show a tightened green padlock next to the name of the website and the wording https:// before its domain.
In addition to checking the connection type of a site, I recommend that you also pay attention to its domain name (or second-level domain). Why? Sometimes scammers, especially those who spread fake news, use domain names remarkably like those of authoritative sites, maybe they change only a letter or by entering a number (e.g. neurotrivial.com could become neuratrivial.com or neurotrivia1.com), very often managing to deceive the user who does not notice what happened.
Checking the Web Reputation of a site, or the reputation that web users have of the same, can help you recognize a fake site from an authentic one. You can use search engines, such as Google, for this purpose.
Doing a simple Google search to find out the reputation of a website is a rather simple but at the same time effective operation when it comes to finding a fake website. To proceed in this sense, connected to the home page of the search engine (google.com), write in the search bar in the center of the page the name of the domain of the site followed by the term opinions or reviews (e.g. neurotrivial.com opinions or neurotrivial.com reviews), and then selects the result or results that you think may interest you most.
Another tool that can be very useful to check the reputation of a site, especially online stores (but not only), is TrustPilot Property, which collects the opinions of users on the many sites both Italian and international. Using it is really child’s play: just type the address of the site to be verified in the search bar located in the center of the home page and select one of the suggestions that appear, at the bottom, as you type. Once you have identified the site reviewed on TrustPilot, pay attention to all comments, especially negative ones, to detect some potential danger.
Social networks can also be especially useful for checking a site’s reputation. If, for example, the site you want to examine has an official Facebook page, by connecting to it and analyzing the comments section, you can quite easily detect the presence of complaints or complaints about any inefficiencies detected by users. On Twitter, however, a simple search for the name of the site should return all the tweets in which it appears: if the tweets are all negative, it means that the site has something wrong!
Despite having conducted a thorough search on search engines, using different keywords, you cannot find information about the site of which you would like to have more information about its reliability? Well, it is a newly created website which, added to the factors already seen previously, could be an indication of poor reliability.
This is not to say that all newly created websites are a fraud, far from it from me! I simply invite you to pay special attention to the thing if you notice anything suspicious. In this case, it is best to wait for a number of reviews available online that allow you to get an idea of the site in question.
In any case, you can check the date of creation of the reference website and various other information concerning it using the Whois Lookup service. Then connect to its main page and fill out the form below the Whois Lookup item by typing the address of the website of your interest and then pressing the Search button located on the side, on the right.
Once this is done, pass the security check by clicking on the button I am not a robot and, on the page that opens, a new screen will appear with the data of the owner of the website (if these are available) and, in correspondence with the item Created on [yyyy-mm-dd] (in the Date section), the date of creation of the website.
Many of the Internet sites of sellers and online stores are not a scam in themselves but can be “carriers” of cyber threats that can jeopardize the security of your computer and… even your accounts! For this reason it is of fundamental importance to check that a site is not dangerous.
To do this I suggest you use, if you do not already do so, a good antivirus software on your computer: the one included in Windows 11 and Windows 10 is great, but if you want there are valid ones, both free and paid.
Secondly, you could use some special browser extensions that can be particularly useful to understand if a specific website is dangerous. Consider whether to use them or not, considering that extensions “weigh down” browsers and in some cases – obviously not these – can pose a serious threat to privacy.
Among the extensions that definitely deserve a look MyWOT, compatible with all Chromium-based browsers (e.g. Chrome and Edge) and inserts an icon near the address bar of the browser depicting a green, yellow or red circle (depending on the degree of security of the page) based on the reviews made by the users themselves.
Another thing you can do to raise your level of online security and avoid ending up on malicious sites, is to check the absence of threats through the URL of the portal of your interest.
To achieve this, I recommend the use of VirusTotal, a famous online service that, taking information from security analysis made by the main third-party computer security services, performs a real-time scan of the security of websites.
To take advantage of it, go to its main page by clicking on the link I provided you earlier, select the URL tab, type the address of your interest in the search field and then give Enter on the keyboard. On the page that opens, you will see the result of the analysis: if the site is secure, the green word Clean will appear next to all the services used for scanning; otherwise, if there are potential threats, you will be informed with a red writing.
Using common sense is crucial to avoid falling victim to defraud websites. Of all the advice I have given you so far, this is definitely the most important of all. Therefore, when you visit a site, in addition to adopting the precautions I told you about during the tutorial, try to use common sense to identify any dangers.
For example, if you want to buy a product from an e-commerce site (even if, from your “surveys”, it turns out to be reliable), carefully evaluate the ad of your interest: maybe you could be careful that the sale price declared in the ad is not inexplicably lower than that of other ads or other portals and that the seller does not make “strange” requests, perhaps in relation to the accepted payment methods.
Have you established that the site you met is fake? Well, in this case you can report the thing to the authorities, first of all to the Postal Police as well as reporting it to search engines, such as Google (which you can do by going to this page and clicking on one of the buttons visible on the screen to fill out the relevant reporting form).
Another thing you can do is report to the main social networks any pages, posts and profiles that advertise the fake site you have identified, to prevent other users from stumbling upon it in some way.
If you want more information about how to report a scam site, you already know what to do: take a look at the guide I dedicated to the subject and that I just linked to you. I hope it will come in handy.