Six ways to spot a fake website

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If you did most of your shopping online before lockdown, you probably thought you could spot a fake website before it finished loading. Unfortunately, scammers are getting more sophisticated so here’s what you should look for before placing an order.

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Be realistic

If you saw the new iPhone on a market stall for £100, you’d know it was fake and walk away. Well, the same goes for online. If you think it’s too cheap to be true…trust that instinct.

Look for spelling and grammar errors

The fast turnaround of fake sites means that they are often not spell-checked. Reputable sites always proof copy many times before publishing online. This doesn’t mean that any site with an error is fake, but this is one way to confirm your suspicions if you have a bad feeling.

Look for longevity

You can check how long a site has been active at https://whois.domaintools.com/

This tool will also tell you where a site is registered, who to and how long its been operational. If it’s new, wait for some varied and positive online reviews from other customers.

Also, examine the domain. You might be on a site that looks exactly the same as the official one, but the domain name is slightly different. So it might say ‘tescos.co.uk’ instead of ‘tesco.co.uk’.

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Check for https://:

Secure website domains start with an https. The extra s is for security and signifies that the site uses encrypted data for its transfers, such as when you’re making a payment. Extra secure sites also have a padlock icon. So, check for available domains at https://www.names.co.uk/domain-names

Pay the right way

The safest ways to pay online are Paypal or credit/debit card. If the worst does happen and you get scammed, you have some rights and some ways to try and recover the money you’ve lost. If you use bank transfer there’s not much you can do.

Check the small print

Legitimate retail sites should have clear contact methods and should state their terms and conditions and return policies. If they don’t, steer clear.

Also, check what others are saying. It’s quick and easy to search for reviews on Google or on sites like TrustPilot. People who have lost money on items that were fake or didn’t turn up like to make sure others don’t fall prey to the same scam.

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