5 Steps to avoid Internet Scam

By SURABHI ROHILLA

A big hello to you and welcome to Financial Freedomist.
My name is Surabhi and I am the brainchild behind this website.
I have been working on my digital business since June 2019. You can know more about me here.

I started my career in the financial services industry and my date of joining coincided with the Stock Market crash of 2006 and within months of my starting my career the world was hit by the very notorious Sub-Prime crisis.

I switched careers from financial services to technology consulting in 2011 and have worked in various technologies, legacy as well as new markets since then.
I realized that the quantum of damage caused by digital hackers was much greater than what was caused by scams of in the physical world.

I am very glad to see that you are conscious about the presence of Internet scams and you are making efforts to become aware of them and ways to avoid them.

I can relate to your concerns and fears. I go through those myself every time I am on the internet to research ways to grow my digital business.

My last post was about the huge earning potential of digital businesses. This growth of the digital world has unfortunately also led to the growth of online scams and frauds.

There are a lot of opportunities to find success on the Internet but at the same time, there are also a lot of frauds and scams which can steal much more than just money from you.

Therefore It is extremely important to be aware of ways to avoid internet scams.

How to recognise a scam website

Have you come across a website that makes a promise of making you rich in a few months, or one that tells you it is very easy to make thousands of dollars by filling a few surveys.
My first rule of thumb is “If it looks too good to be true, then it most definitely is a lie”.

I never trust websites that make such promises.

Then there are some other types of websites that seem genuine and look trustworthy in the initial look of it but are also scams.

There are 5 basic steps which anyone can use and easily expose those fake and scam website. These basic steps can be used even by a non-technical person.
I have been able to stay safe and protect myself from scams by following these 5 basic steps.

Look for HTTPS

Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) is an extension of the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP). It is used for secure communication over a computer network. In HTTPS, the communication protocol is encrypted using Transport Layer Security (TLS) or Secure Sockets Layer (SSL).

Internet was built on the foundations of the HTTP protocol, though during that time the internet was not used for commercial purposes. It was only used for the exchange of information between people, therefore HTTP protocol was not as secure and communication done via HTTP was done in plain text which could be intercepted, manipulated or stolen.

When the Internet started being used widely for commercial purposes as well, a more secure protocol was needed and thus HTTPS was born.

So in short, do not trust a website for using your credit cards/debit cards / making payments using internet banking, etc on websites where you see HTTP in the URL.

Always look for HTTPS in the URL.

Sometimes HTTPS is not visible but you will see a Pad Lock icon HTTPS Protocol

This also means that the website is using HTTPS. You can also click on the Padlock icon to view further details

However, do not blindly trust the website only based on HTTPS, this is just the first filter in your scan for a safe website, the next thing to look for is the actual URL.

Pay attention to the URL

We can expose a fake or scam website in a minute by just taking a close look at the URL, yet, unfortunately, most of us miss doing this basic thing.

URL is like a door to a haunted house, you do not need to open it to realize it takes you inside something spooky.
You should make it a habit to scrutinize the URL before clicking on it.
To explain what to look for in a URL, let us first understand the parts which make up a URL in the first place –

A typical URL looks like this –

How to expose fake website

The part of this URL which an attacker can use to trick you is –

The hostname – One of the common tactics used by attackers is to mimic a real website. They copy the wordings of the real website in such a way that unless you observe the link closely you will end up mistaking it for a real one.

An example of one such fake URL is below –

Ways to avoid internet scams

Observe closely and you will notice the website has the Green Padlock in the URL meaning, it uses HTTPS protocol so that is a good thing but, notice how the attacker has used “paypal.com.security.alert.confirmation-manager-security.com” to look like a domain name of the real PayPal website “www.paypal.com”
But, when you look closely you observe here “paypal.com.security.alert” is the sub-domain and the actual domain name is “confirmation-manager-security”

If this is too much information then just remember that everything between the “.” and “.com” is the real website name.

Look for Bad English

Once you have verified the website using the first two filters, the third thing to do is to observe the language used in the website content.
A website that contains grammatical errors and spelling mistakes in its content should not be trusted.

If you are not able to verify its content on your own then you can always take the help of free tools such as –

– Gmail
– MS Word

You can copy the content from the website you are trying to validate and paste it into a new mail message of Gmail or open a new word doc and paste the content.
Both these tools do a spell check and highlight if there are any spelling or grammatical errors.

Scam website detector

There are some very good tools on the internet that help analyze the websites using many more parameters than the ones listed here in this article.

These tools scan the websites under many basic and advanced lenses and give you a consolidated report of whether the website can be trusted or not or does it look safe but should be used with caution.

One such tool that I use personally and is also free to use is –

https://www.scamadviser.com/

Ways to avoid internet scams

All you need to do is copy the URL you want to scan for safety and paste it in the search text box of scamadviser.com
It will scan the website and tell you whether it can be trusted or not.

Look for reviews

There are times when even scamadviser does not give you a definitive answer of whether or not to trust the website.
In such cases, I always use the last step of doing a google search on the reviews of the website.

You can use the search phrase – Name of the website + Reviews

For Example – www.linkedin.com Reviews

Report Fake or Scam websites

If you do come across a scam or fraud website then it is a good practice to report such dubious sites on the following portals

Google – Safe Browsing 

Mozilla – Protect the Fox


Top internet fraud scams

If you have reached so far in the post then you can be rest assured that you will be able to identify a fraud website and will never fall prey to a scam.

It also helps to know about the ongoing online scams used by cybercriminals to trick you.


Conclusion

There is a new term that has been coined recently, I find it both funny and extremely relevant – Safe Tech.
It is really important in today’s world to follow “Safe Tech”.

You can protect yourself from almost all kinds of scams and frauds on the internet by following the 5 steps listed in this post.
Make sure you use all of them in together and not one or more of them separately.

There are also more advanced techniques that you can use if you are a technically sound user.
Read more at https://www.thesslstore.com/blog/5-ways-to-determine-if-a-website-is-fake-fraudulent-or-a-scam/

I would love to hear your thoughts on this post, do you think this post was helpful for you? What steps do you take to protect yourself from digital scams? Do share your views in the comments section below.

Stay Safe!

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