How to Spot a Safe Site
Using context clues and online tools, you can spot scam sites in many ways. These include spelling errors, stretched-out logos and cheap photography, and a lack of a professional appearance.
Look for Contact Information
Some people find it easier to trust websites that display their contact information. In fact, recent studies show that 44 percent of website visitors will leave a site if it does not have clear contact information. Ideally, a safe site will display an email address, phone number, physical address (if applicable), return policy, social media accounts, and other details. These won’t offer protection, but they will help you feel more confident in shopping at that particular site.
Another way to determine if a website is safe is to search its domain name. Tools like Whois Lookup let you enter a website URL to verify who owns it and when it was registered. If the results reveal a fake or suspicious address, that’s a sure sign that the site is unsafe. You can also try searching the company or person who owns a domain to learn more about them. Using these tools will help you avoid dangerous websites and protect your identity while online this holiday season.
Look for a Secure Connection
When you visit a website and see the error message, “Your connection to this site is not secure,” it means that any information you send to or from the site could be intercepted by cybercriminals. This is because websites without the ‘S’ in HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) aren’t using SSL certificates to protect your data, which are issued by trusted Certificate Authorities. If you want to know whether a site is safe, modern web browsers also display color in the address bar and company name, so you can easily identify reputable sites.
Another way to spot a safe site is by looking for a trust seal, which indicates that the site works with a cybersecurity service provider and prioritizes visitor safety. Clicking on these icons should direct you to a page that verifies the validity of the seal. In addition, a legitimate security seal should never have spelling errors or grammatical mistakes, so look for one that’s professionally designed.
Look for a Reputable Company
With the holiday shopping season upon us, it’s important to know how to tell if a website is safe. Unsafe websites can contain malware and other threats that may damage your device or steal information. Fortunately, there are easy ways to spot unsafe sites online.
Banners that blink incessantly, exaggerated promises, or very low product prices are classic indications that a site is not safe to use. Additionally, look for a contact page that includes a physical address, phone number, and email contact, or a whois lookup to learn who owns the domain.
Another great safety tool is Google’s Safe Browsing, which examines billions of URLs daily and flags thousands that are dangerous to visit. You can also use VirusTotal’s free site security checker to scan a URL and see its status in just seconds. These tools and a little common sense will help you avoid being scammed by cybercriminals who want to take your personal information or infect you with malware.