Online Purchase Scams: How to Identify a Fake Website

Published by The Bee News

March 29, 2022

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Online purchase scams maintained the top spot as the riskiest according to the BBB Scam Tracker Risk Report in 2021. Staying up to date with the latest trends and becoming an educated consumer is your top defense to avoid these scams, including how to detect a fake website. Always look out for these red flags before entering your personal or payment information.  

Look closely at the domain name. Fraudsters will use a domain name extremely close to a real business’ or organization’s, like two letters are swapped or it’s just slightly misspelled. 

Watch out for tricky subdomains. Attackers hope you will confuse a subdomain with the real domain name of their website, like using when the accurate one is actually

Be careful with links in emails. Always hover over links in unsolicited emails and if the link doesn’t match the blue text or if it’s a short link and you can’t tell where it leads, don’t click it. 

Check the design quality. Low quality visuals, odd layouts, and poor web design can all be warning signs of a fake website, so make sure the quality measures up to the reputation of the business it represents.

Pay attention to contact information and shop policies. Legitimate online stores should provide you with a physical address and working phone number. 

Do a search for reviews and potential scams. Type in the website name along with the word “scam” or “reviews” into your web browser. If other people have been victims of a fake site, you’re likely to find reports when you search for scams. 

Try a fake website checker. Website checkers, such as Google’s Safe Browsing tool can also help you decide whether a website is safe to visit. 

BBB encourages businesses to operate with integrity, and helps consumers make wise marketplace decisions. Our innovative approach to business growth provides the tools that companies and entrepreneurs need to build better businesses. Become BBB Accredited and join our mission to create a community of trust. Published with permission from Better Business Bureau.

 About the Better Business Bureau Serving the Pacific Southwest.

For more than 100 years, the Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2020, people turned to BBB more than 220 million times for BBB Business Profiles on 6.2 million businesses and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at The International Association of Better Business Bureaus is the umbrella organization for the local, independent BBBs in the United States, Canada and Mexico. Incorporated locally in 1938, BBB Serving the Pacific Southwest serves Greater Arizona and Southern California, providing critical tools to ignite success including mentorship, online products and access to capital. Our objective expertise educates the community on ethical behavior in the marketplace and how businesses can build trust.

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