The penetration of smartphones and faster internet speeds have led to more people looking out for information using their smartphones. There are around 191.4 million websites that are active globally. Given that a large of people use the internet at any given time, it has also led to several fraudsters utilizing the internet for their malicious ends. 

There are fake websites that are targeted at internet users to receive their details and their financial information fraudulently. According to the Q1 2020 State of Phishing and Online Fraud Report: COVID Edition by Bolster, there were around 854,441 confirmed counterfeit pages and approximately 4 million suspicious ones. A considerable number, by any standards!

With cybercriminals waiting to pounce on unsuspecting internet users, it is necessary to steer clear of fraudulent websites. But how can you recognize them? In this article, we will discuss some of the ways you can distinguish a legitimate website from one that isn’t.


  • Does it have a Trust Seal?


These days, visitors are quite anxious about websites that do not show trust factors upfront. They will usually abandon these websites unless they are confirmed that the website is a legit one. A Trust Seal is like a badge of confirmation that the website is trusted. It is an image displayed on your site that enthuses a sense of trust in your website. 

A trusted third-party must validate the legality of your business, and hence the website. They are usually present on the pages on which visitors are most active. You may find them on the Homepage, the Checkout page, or the Login page. The Trust Seal is usually placed on websites that sell high-value items online. 


  • Is the website on HTTPS?


Successful brands may have a loss of face if their customers are unable to distinguish their website from a fake one. A simple way to prevent fake websites is to shift to the HTTPS protocol. It will ensure that the communication between the web server and the visitor’s browser is encrypted. All you have to do is to install an SSL certificate. Based on the type of certificate you choose; a renowned Certification Authority will validate your credentials and that of your business. Then they will provide a certification of authentication that the website is a legit one. The websites having this certificate will have a padlock in the address bar. The visitors can also check the validity of these certificates by clicking on the padlock.


  • Check the contact information


A legitimate site will provide the details of their contact information. You can check the address of the entity on Google Maps whether they exist. You may also dial the contact numbers provided and check for yourself whether the entity even exists.


  • Check the URL


One of the most common fraudulent activities online is copying the identity of renowned brands. It is essential that you also check the URL of the website that you are visiting. You must stay clear of the sites that look similar to the renowned brands. Also, check the domain extensions. Some of the extensions like. stream, .biz, .info, .top, .party, etc. are known to be spam sites, and you must skip visiting these sites.

On the other hand, websites that have the extension as .com, .edu, .org, .net, .gov, etc. While the .gov and .edu extensions are difficult to obtain as they are for government establishments and educational institutions, respectively, the others are relatively safe bets. 


  • Presence on social media


Most businesses have a decent presence on social media as it helps to improve their business prospects. The icons may be present but may not lead to a proper social media page. The presence on social media can help you know more about the company and even allow you to go through a few reviews about the solutions portfolio. You may check on sites like LinkedIn about their employees. 


  • Stay away from unknown emails


One of the best ways to stay from unknown websites is to stay away from anonymous emails that could contain such links. You may receive an email that would require you to visit a website for an offer. Even if you go through this email, you must always check the email id from where it is coming from. It must contain the name of the company in the domain name. You must check the salutation and the tone of the email too.


  • Do a check using Google


One of the best ways to check for the legitimacy of a website is to find out the Google Safe Browsing Transparency Report. All you have to do is to insert the URL of the website you wish to check. You will get the confirmation there itself.


  • Check the website content


When you are at a website, you must check the layout of the website, The landing page may be similar to the original site, but you must also check for the logo and the paragraph headers. If you find there is some difference, it is better to leave the site right away. Most fraudulent sites will have too many spelling mistakes or grammatical errors. You must also check whether there are too many ads on the web page.


  • Most sites have their online policies


When we visit a website, we do not pay attention to the privacy policies or the link related to the terms and conditions of the site. But if you are not confident about a site, you can visit these links to check. You can see the privacy policy and understand what the site will do with the user data collected and the process of storing such information. It will help to ensure that the site is legitimate.


The advancement of technology has its dark side too. The dark web can wreak havoc in your life and can lead to financial loss. It is suggested that you check your footsteps on the internet. The malware must be avoided, and you must stay away from websites with too many pop-ups and entice you to prevent downloads. One of the best ways to segregate a legitimate website is the HTTPS platform, for which there is a need for an SSL certificate. We have discussed some of the steps you can take to find out if a website is legitimate or not.

Founder, editor, and contributor at Technosoups. Shubham has been a gadget freak since longer than he cares to admit and loves everything to do with technology. He loves to address tech issues​es and write tech how-to's in a way that it can be followed by everyone.