We’ve all had emails supposedly from a reputable company that are, in reality, a scam. But these are only one aspect of phishing: phishers also build fake websites to trick targets into entering login details, banking information, or both. Pharming redirects victims to fake websites upon trying to visit a legitimate one – getting conned doesn’t even require an email link anymore.

In the hope of stopping you falling victim to these cyberattacks, MailCleaner have come up with a brief guide to identifying bogus websites, so you can keep your devices, your details, and yourself safe online.

URL

There are a few things to look out for here. If the domain name mentions a well-known brand or product, is spelled incorrectly – for example, if www.mailcleaner.net was spelled www.mallcleaner.net – or features meaningless extra text, it is likely to be a scam.

Domain age

Fake websites are often built very quickly, so looking up the domain age using tools like Whois Lookup is a good way to check the legitimacy of the site. This tells you who the domain is registered to, where it is registered, and how long it’s been active. If a website supposedly belonging to a popular clothing brand was only created 2 days ago, it’s probably not legitimate.

Security

HTTPS indicates that a website’s data is encrypted and therefore more protected from hackers. A website that uses ‘http://’ isn’t necessarily a scam, but it’s more likely to be than a ‘https://’ website.

A padlock in the address bar means your connection is secure and has the certification to prove it, which you can view by clicking on the padlock.

A website with both is likely to be trustworthy, but proceed with caution anyway.

Payment method

Having to pay for something online via bank transfer is a red flag. If you pay with a credit or debit card, you at least stand a chance of getting your money back. If you pay by bank transfer, there’s very little you can do.

Spelling and grammar errors

Again, look at the URL spelling – you should do this before clicking on suspicious links. An excess of spelling, punctuation, capitalisation, and grammar errors could indicate that the website was put together very quickly and with very little consideration for professionalism.

Website features

Some legitimate features of a website to look out for include:

  • Working internal links – links on scam websites often don’t work
  • ‘About Us’ page or contact information
  • Returns and privacy policies
  • Trust marks from external organisations

Protect your business from malicious phishing emails with MailCleaner’s high-quality anti-spam software. We offer flexible packages to suit small companies, large corporations, and everything in between, so contact us today to find out more.

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