How to spot fake websites this holiday season
It’s an annual tradition… after giving gifts to everyone, we want to take advantage of those deep-discount sales that appear online from now into the New Year. But hackers, scammers and identity thieves are also on the web, lying in wait for holiday shoppers. It’s hard to resist all the bargains, but don’t get more than you bargained for by falling for a fake website.
Here’s how a typical online scam works: You see an ad or post on social media with incredibly low prices on, for example, brand name winter coats. The sale is so good that you share it with your friends and family, or perhaps you click on it because someone shared it with you or tagged you on the post. Having been referred by a friend and, no doubt, under pressure because there’s limited stock available or the sale is ending soon, you quickly and confidently place your order on a fake website. You never get the coat, but you’re relieved to see no charge appears on your credit card or bank statement. In the hectic holiday period, you probably chalk it up to just one more glitch in the system. Meanwhile, the criminals behind the scam have all the info they need to steal your identity, use your credit card or simply sell your data. Shopping on fake websites can lead to your financial and personal information being compromised and/or your computer, tablet or smartphone being infected with a virus or malware.
Knowing how to spot the telltale signs of a fake site is essential – and relatively easy.
Here are some tips to help you recognize fraudulent websites:
Pay attention to the website’s address (URL)
Before making any online purchase, check the site’s domain as shown in the address bar of your web browser. It should begin with the letters “https”. The “s” stands for secure, indicating secure encryption to protect your data. Not all websites have https security, but you should only enter your personal or credit card information on sites that do.
Don’t assume a security logo ensures a website is safe
Security certification logos, such as Verisign, Symantec and others, help identify safe shopping websites. Scammers will copy a security logo to make you think your purchase is protected. Suspicious if a shopping site is legitimate? If you click on a real certification logo, you see details of the site’s security. Clicking on a counterfeit security logo will not provide any certification information, revealing you’re on a fake website.
Watch out for poor spelling and grammar
Good websites take pride in their brand, ensuring that their spelling and grammar are flawless. If you’re on a website and it reads like it was written in a hurry by someone who does not have command of the language, be wary. Fake websites are often done quickly, to “get in and out”, scamming people and then shutting down.
Click to see the “Contact us” page
Legitimate companies, hoping for your trust and patronage for many years to come, will post reliable contact information. Be wary of any company that doesn’t provide a phone number or street address for you to follow up on your purchase. A fake website won’t provide this information and frequently will not even bother to complete the “Contact us” page.
When in doubt, check it out
Fraud is a crime that threatens every Canadian, regardless of their education, age or income. From January 2014 to December 2017, Canadians lost more than $405 million to fraudsters.  Visit Google’s Transparency Report page: enter any website address to learn if it’s safe for browsing. ADT by Telus, Canada’s leader in security wants you to stay safe in your home… and online!
For more information on our state-of-the-art smart security options including video surveillance, intrusion monitoring and more, call 888.ADT.ASAP to speak with a security expert.
 Government of Canada Fraud Facts Protecting Your Privacy Online Identity Theft and Fraud Prevention for Students