How to recognize fraudulent websites

Written by: Jeff Trump on 22 November 2011

We want to point out that starting point for safety online depends on the user and not on anti-virus software no matter how popular or expensive it may be. There are some common mistakes all users make while browsing. Luckily for us, criminals online use techniques that are similar to all of them. A short review will give you a basic idea how to recognize malicious websites.

First of all, hijacking of your internet browser.

Have you ever clicked on some link which made your browser to change a home page that you had set? This site does not let you visit any other websites only links to purchase some product. If this sounds a bit similar – do not visit those sites again. They are probably connected with some fraud scheme.

The website you visit makes you download and install programs.

Usually trusted companies that want to promote their product, have a Buy or Download link on their websites. But pages that you should try to avoid often promote their products over-extensively – there are a lot menu bars that lead the to the same product similar to ”buy now”, “purchase this great product”. Moreover, this site automatically opens pop-up windows with download links. A trusted site will always wait until you press the Download button.

Bunch of pup-ups.

Never trust a website which opens loads of pop-up windows with every click of a link in that site. The pop-up ads may even advertise things you were not searching for in the first place. But be careful even if there are no pop-ups. Some browsers have automatic pop-up blockers and this way you may not notice that you entered a malicious site.

Automatically installed toolbars and software.

You may have done everything right but a malicious program may still have found a way in to your computer. If you notice new browser toolbars that you haven't installed or some unseen icons on your desktop – these may be signs of security breach of your computer.

Poor design.

Or should we say – no design at all. If you visit a website where ads are all you see or there are a lot of grammar, spelling, logical mistakes in the texts – it may be dangerous website. There can also be a bunch of links to sites that do not work. There will not be a lot of sites like this because lucky for you most fraudulent sites are closed in two weeks period. That is why criminals can not allow themselves a lot of time working on a single website. That is why most websites connected with fraud schemes are poorly built.

No company details.

Most fraudulent websites do not have a thing similar to Contacts on their menu. Sometimes they do but there are only poor details about the company or the owner of the website. Not only there are only a few details given but in fact the most important information is left out. Often no telephone number is provided as well as email address. You will rarely find any land address or even company name there. But even though having no details about the company may be a sign of a malicious site having them does not guarantee anything too because it is easy to choose random numbers as telephone number or create a fake email address like

Website finds errors in your system.

Some websites pretend to scan your computer and in a few seconds they load a pop-up telling they have found a number of errors on your computer. Do not believe because it is impossible for a website to scan your system. Get out of sites like this as quickly as possible.

A lot of complains over the internet.

The one method you can trust 99% of the time is the search engine method. When you find a suspicious website use search engines like Google to check the name of a website online. You may search by adding some words like scam, fraud or etc. For example, search for www. + scam. The results will give you a general idea of what to expect from that particular site. If there are a lot of complains – do not visit that website anymore.

These are the general guidelines of how to avoid fraudulent websites. But keep in mind, that spammers think of new ways how to make you trust them. Use this knowledge to keep safe.

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