It is never a good idea to blindly trust a website. Assuming that a site is legitimate can cause you to fall prey to phishing attacks. If that happens, you could inadvertently disclose sensitive information to people who may use it for identify theft and other malicious things. You don’t have to live in fear, though. By familiarizing yourself with a few of the main signs of a copycat website, you will have an easier time protecting yourself against these attempts. Keep in mind that phishing techniques can be quite sophisticated, and keep the following tips in mind as you browse the Internet.
- Unusual Urgency – A legitimate website for a bank, credit card company or other organization isn’t going to have an air of desperation about it. You aren’t going to find urgent messages sprawling across such sites. If you land on a site and it seems to include a lot of inappropriate urgent messages, you should double-check the URL and make sure that you’re really in the right place. Phishers rely on this type of urgency to increase the odds that people will quickly and willingly disclose sensitive information.
- Poor Design – The websites of professional businesses and organizations are generally sleek and stylish. If you visit one that seems to look a little ramshackle, there’s a very good chance that you’ve stumbled upon a spoofed site. Legitimate businesses are not going to allow their sites to go live with glaring design flaws. If things look sloppy, take the time to do a little investigating before you proceed.
- Misspellings – Business websites typically include copy that has been written by professionals. They are not going to be riddled with misspellings and glaring grammatical errors. Scan through a site before you proceed. Does it seem to be well-written and professional? Has anything changed since your last visit?
- Pop-Up Windows – Legitimate sites are not going to bombard you with pop-up windows the second you land on them. Everyone knows that pop-ups are commonly used to gather sensitive information from unsuspecting victims. Use a browser that allows you to block pop-ups. If one slips through, you should consider it to be a major red flag.
What You can Do:
There are ways to avoid landing on copycat websites in the first place. For one thing, you could invest in anti-phishing software. There are also free anti-phishing add-ons for many popular Internet browsers. When in doubt, copy and paste the URL of the site in question to check it on a major search engine like Google. If it is legit, the results should confirm it. To test the veracity of a shady-looking site, you could also supply a fake password. If it’s a legitimate site, it will know that you’ve supplied the wrong password and will inform you of such. In general, though, it is best to simply navigate away from suspicious sites.
The Internet is an amazing resource, and you shouldn’t let a fear of phishing get between you and a great and productive time. Keep the preceding information in mind to make the most of your Internet browsing experience.
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