(Before Entering Personal Information)

Spoof websites seem to pop up daily, tricking people into entering their credit card numbers. Scammers design these websites to look like the real thing in order to steal your money. And I know the signs to look out for that make me snap my wallet shut! 

Hackers are getting savvier, and you could easily fall for one of these scams if you're not careful. With that in mind, I’d like to share how I spot spoof websites before entering any of my personal information.


Why Do Cyber Criminals Spoof Websites?

Cyber criminals use spoofed websites for various reasons, including collecting login details, stealing credit card information, or installing malware. Often the victim receives a spoofed email first that directs them to the spoofed website.


How Do They Do It?

Hackers create a clone website using various programs and bots to “scrape” information from the legitimate website to use on the fraudulent one.

Using social engineering techniques, cybercriminals convince their victims to click links, download attachments, fill out web forms, and respond to text messages.

Educating your employees about social engineering is crucial. Training your employees by providing simulations that will help them change their behavior.


Check the URL

One of the most common ways that spoof websites trick people is by using a similar domain name to the actual website. For example, if you're trying to log into your bank's website, you might see a spoof website that uses a slightly different spelling or domain extension.

You might not notice the difference if you're not paying close attention. That's why it's important to double-check the URL before entering any sensitive information.

Always check for the padlock in the search bar displayed before the URL. This usually means the website is secure, but this is only one data point, and there are always exceptions. The "secured" padlock cannot always be trusted since hackers have figured out how to get it on fraudulent sites. 


Website Design Quality 

A poor-quality website design or one that looks drastically different from the actual website is another red flag. This can be a dead giveaway if you frequently visit the actual website and can easily recognize the design.

If you are unfamiliar with the website, consider if the quality of the website is on par with what you would expect from a reputable business or organization. If you have a gut feeling that something is off with the design — err on the safe side and give the business or organization a call to see if they changed their website.


Check Contact Information 

If there isn’t any contact information listed on the website, that is another sign of a spoofed site. The creators of a fraudulent website do not want to be contacted. But actual businesses want to hear from their customers and want to make it easy for them to reach out.  

If a phone number is listed, give it a call the verify the company. If the line is disconnected, that’s a red flag.


Check for Recent Activity

If it’s a company or organization that you are unfamiliar with, check for recent customer reviews on Google or search for the company on social media platforms. A legit company will have recent activity online.

If you come across a website that raises any red flags, it's best to err on the side of caution and avoid entering any sensitive information.

It's a good idea to pay attention to your gut feelings. If something about a website doesn't seem right, there's a good chance it's not legitimate. Trust your instincts, and you'll be much less likely to fall for a spoof website scam.

Typos or grammatical errors are usually easy to spot, but scammers are getting better at disguising them. If you're unsure about a website, you can contact the company directly to confirm that it's real.

Only enter sensitive information if you're absolutely sure the website is legitimate. These tips can help protect you from spoofed websites and other online scams.

If you want to see what a real website looks like and get more information on cybersecurity, check the One Step Secure IT blog. 

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