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How do I Recognize Scam Websites?

Article Details
  • Written By: G. Wiesen
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 30 July 2017
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2017
    Conjecture Corporation
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There are a number of ways to recognize scam websites, though the methods can vary depending on the scam being used and the specific websites in question. In general, it is a good idea to be wary of any website that is offering something you feel is “too good to be true.” You should also be cautious of any website that requires you to input sensitive information about yourself, such as your bank account information or Social Security number. Some scam websites can also be avoided through the use of antivirus programs and updated web browsers.

Scam websites are often created to offer visitors with opportunities that require the visitor to provide information that can be used in a disingenuous way. These websites can take a number of different forms, from phishing sites created to look like legitimate bank websites to offers to sell you secrets for making money at home. Much like scams that exist off the Internet, most offers that simply seem “too good to be true” often are. This does not mean that all websites that offer special discounts, incentives, or free products are scam websites, but you should always be careful when your instincts tell you to be cautious of an offer.

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There are also some offers that can be found on the Internet that may not necessarily be scam websites, but they may have conditions you may not immediately see. Websites that offer expensive electronics for free, for example, may either be outright scams or may be legitimate, but with negative conditions attached to the offer. You may, for example, have to complete a number of lengthy and possibly expensive surveys or trial offers, such as having a product sent to you that you must return in a short period of time or you will be charged for. These types of websites are technically legitimate, but the offer will usually have a negative consequence in the long run and will often not end up being truly “free.”

You should also be careful with any website that asks for sensitive or personal information. If you are registering on a website for a free account, it is not unreasonable to need to input your name, birth date, and possibly the city and country in which you live. Details such as your exact street address, your mother’s maiden name, and private information are typically not needed for such a simple membership, however, so you should be very careful about entering such information. You should also be cautious of email sent to you from an address that appears to be your bank that includes a link to the bank’s website. Always go directly to the website you know for your bank, rather than clicking a link, as the imbedded link may send you to a different website without you realizing it.

Using a quality antivirus program, with web protection, and maintaining updated browsers can also help you avoid scam websites. Many of these programs will function together to check websites before you visit them, evaluating the site against reported security threats or scams. This can often come up before you visit a site, or on a list of search results generated by a search engine. You can use this warning to avoid going to scam websites or to guide you in being careful as you visit such sites.

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