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How to Discern a Scam Website From a Real One

Mona is a veteran writer, educator, and coach. She is presently affiliated with Enrich Magazine and Pressenza

how-to-discern-a-scam-website-from-a-real-one

When one thinks of the things some people can come up with when producing a fake website, there seems to be no end to the abundance of wrongful possibilities. Some examples of fake websites are:

http://descy.50megs.com/akcj3/bmd.html. This is a fake website of a fake dog that they call the Burmese Mountain Dog. If you google the dog, you’ll learn that it doesn’t exist. Also, the dogs on the website look like German Shepherds.

http://www.pinknoiz.com/coldwar/microwave.html is another fake website that looks like it would be attractive to conspiracy theorists. It claims that “MICROWAVE HARASSMENT AND MIND-CONTROL EXPERIMENTATION” is real.

http://www.absolution-online.com/. This website makes me think of a friend I had, who said she always goes to genuine websites because they are Catholic websites. Absolution online is a fake Catholic website that offers online confession and praying of the rosary.

how-to-discern-a-scam-website-from-a-real-one

COVID-19 and Fake Websites

A lot of people who are now staying indoors oftentimes shop online or simply engage in most things online. However, doing so can accidentally lead you to a fake website that looks like it is actually the reputable one that you were actually looking for. This is often done by slightly changing one small thing.

I often get popups that lead to a fake website that resembled The Manila Times, but it always talked about how famous people became billionaires by latching onto their currency product. They started out with a famous celebrity or politician, and added a leading tagline to catch one's interest.

When these popups were frequent, I decided to check out the website more carefully. In the end, I realized that the website looked exactly like The Manila Times, but its name took out the letter "s" calling itself The Manila Time.

There are many things we do online nowadays that we never did before. For example, we purchase our groceries online, do our daily work online, teach our students online, read news on Twitter, or meet with our doctors online among others.

Being on the laptop for so long during the day can lead us to fake websites when we relax. Oftentimes, these websites can con us into buying branded products, but when we see them, they are a poor imitation. We can also be victims of scam investments and fake news because many people don't know how to discern a true website from one that's fake.

how-to-discern-a-scam-website-from-a-real-one

Things to look out for

Website scam sites increase every time technology advances. To protect ourselves from fake websites, we can inspect the address bar.

4. "About Us"

  • A genuine business website will have an "About Us" page. Check to see if this page includes the full names of members of the team, information about their backgrounds, and photos. If it only mentions the first name of their team members, there must be a reason why. Apparently, they don't want to stand up for their website. If they give their full names, check them out on LinkedIn to see if they are really affiliated with the website.

5. Inspect the website's social media presence.

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  • Legitimate companies will almost certainly have social media icons on their websites such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or YouTube. If you see these icons, click them. False website icons won't link to a true account. Also, when in doubt, you should read company reviews.

6. Google the website and add the word "scam" or "complaint". If it has a long list of complaints, then it could be a scam. Possibly, the website may have been bought out, but if there are a lot of complaints about it, treat it with caution.

7. Inspect the privacy policy.

  • Most websites are required by law to inform website visitors of their practice and conduct regarding how their data is collected, used, protected, and stored. Most sites will provide a web page or a link to a document providing detailed information. It is well worth your time to read this carefully. Make sure that you know what to expect before you provide any personal information or shop online.
how-to-discern-a-scam-website-from-a-real-one

Check them out before you believe them

8. Be cautious of good deals.

  • If it's too good to be true, then it's fake. If a brand product is offered at a quarter of the value, you can be sure you will get a fake and badly made copy of the brand.

9. Be wary of links on eBay.

  • If the seller wants you to click on a link or asks you to get in touch with them before bidding, you should definitely not click the link, and don't bother contacting them. You're dealing with someone untrustworthy. It's time to move on.


10. Inspect their grammar.

  • A reputable company will definitely be finicky about grammar. Poor grammar takes away from the appropriate tone of corporate communications that stems from credible corporations. Also, the website has to look professional. If it seems to be amateurish in appearance or has bad spelling, then this is one website you can disregard.

12. Be wary of website malware.

  • If a website has pop-ups and ads that try to get you to click on them these are the usual indications of malicious websites. Don't click on these links and don't download anything they ask you to. Your system will be exposed to malware if you do. If a website redirects you to other sites with advertisements, or even worse, if it asks you for sensitive information, move away. It would be better for you to not click on ads and instead to go to the website directly if the product really interests you.

According to the Philippine News Agency (PNA) 44 percent of Philippine-based consumers have been targeted by digital fraud from January to March 2021. Most of them occurred in Manila, Makati City and Salcedo, eastern Samar. Scammers mainly target 48 percent of Gen Z (those born from 1995 and 2002) and 42 percent of millennials (born between 1980 and 1994). Digital fraud against businesses rose by 31 percent, versus before the pandemic. Because of this, we should take time to check the veracity of websites, even if we are familiar with the website because scams tend to closely resemble the real thing. Let us not be fooled.



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