(PresidentialInsider.com) – Every year, financial exploitation costs Americans billions of dollars. For instance, seniors age 65 and over lose roughly $2.9 billion annually. These schemes come in a variety of different forms from telephone calls to internet scams.
Fake websites are one of the most common scams. When we all spend so much time online, how can we tell the authentic sites from the fakes?
Scammers use fake websites to steal the personal or financial information of users. Typically these sites mimic a government portal or retail store. Frequently, criminals trick unsuspecting victims into clicking on the sites by sending an email that says something like, “The IRS has found money that belongs to you, please click here to learn more.” When the person clicks on the link, it might take them to a website that looks just like the real site. How can you tell if it’s fake?
First of all, every government website ends in “.gov.” Make sure you check for that. Another tip to keep in mind is government agencies will never send you an email or call you without some prompting from you first. They never cold call or email citizens.
Scammers who are targeting people with fake retail sites might start the scheme the same way. They may email you with some sort of amazing offer, ask you to click a link and lead you to a fake site. What then?
Look at the address bar and ensure everything is spelled correctly. If something is wrong, that’s a reasonable sign the website is fake. You could also type in the website name in the search bar manually and look at the site to see if the address bars are similar. Also, check to make sure your connection is secure. You can see that by looking at the address bar.
- HTTPS means the connection is secure.
- HTTP is not secure, and you should never trust it with your personal information.
- Look for the padlock at the top of the address bar that means it’s secure.
You can also check to see if the site has Trust Seals. These are logos for companies like PayPal or agencies like the Better Business Bureau that let people know the site is safe.
A good rule of thumb is to never click on links in your email. Most retail sites will send the coupon code in the email body or to your rewards account. Government agencies won’t email you unless you communicate with someone there first. Remember, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
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