Do you suspect a website? How to check if a site is secure

When you’re surfing the web, whether on your laptop, PC, or smartphone, it’s easy to end up on an illegitimate or fraudulent website without even realizing it.

Websites can now look incredibly professional or compelling even when they don’t in reality, so it’s important to be able to notice red flags. With that in mind, here are the easiest ways to check if a website is secure.

1. Check for errors in the website address


https link magnifier graphic

When you’re on a fake website, you can sometimes tell by looking at the URL in the web address bar at the top of your window.

For example, there may be a subtle misspelling in a brand name if you are on a duped website, such as “homedep0t” instead of “homedepot”.

Additionally, a web address using “http” instead of “https” at the beginning of the URL can also be dangerous. This is because HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) is designed to secure data transfers and communications over a network, unlike HTTP. Secure Hypertext Transfer Protocol encrypts HTTP requests, so your browsing experience is made more private and secure.

Although not all websites using HTTP instead of HTTPS are secure, many are. So, if you notice that a website you are on does not use the secure hypertext transfer protocol, you should be very careful as you proceed and not enter any personal information which may be intercepted or collected.

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2. Look for a lock icon next to the web address


Google search page with an arrow pointing to the URL

All major web browsers use a lock icon to notify users that a website is considered safe. Check the web address of this page right now and you will see a small padlock icon to the left of the URL. This refers to Secure Hypertext Transfer Protocol.

When the lock icon is present, it means the website you are on is using Secure Hypertext Transfer Protocol. When the lock icon is not present or accompanied by an alert or a cross symbol, the website is not using secure hypertext transfer protocol and is therefore not considered as safe by the browser.

Again, while not all sites without the lock icon are safe, many are, so you should proceed with caution or use one of the other methods on this list to check its validity. It’s a good thing to keep an eye on, whether you’re on a smartphone or a computer.

3. Check the age of the site’s domain


text http in front of the phone

The age of a website’s domain refers to the date the website was created. Although this domain age cannot give an exact age of the website, as domains are often purchased before a website is created, it can give you a rough idea of ​​the age of the site.

This is especially useful when it looks like you’re on an established site, but you suspect it might be a dupe. For example, if you are on what you assumed was the official Walmart website, but the age of the domain is only a few months, weeks, or days, chances are the site is a replica designed to scam users of their payment information. or other sensitive data.

There are a number of different sites you can use to check the age of a domain, including Small SEO tools and Duplicate Checker.

4. Check social media and company reviews


social media icons in front of person on phone and laptop

It’s easy to come across a new company that you want to buy or use the services from. But it is crucial to do some research on these small businesses to make sure they are legit.

A great way to determine if an online business is well established is to check its social media presence. If the business has no form of social media, has only a few followers, or posts unusual or suspicious content, there may be something criminal going on behind the scenes.

Unfortunately, many of these new sites you come across, especially those that offer very low prices for their products or services, are not legit at all. Their goal is to steal private data (including your payment information) so that they can make a profit by exploiting it.


That’s why it’s also important to check a company’s reviews before making any kind of commitment. A quick internet search of the company and its reviews should bring up a few services, such as TrustPilot or Reviews.io, which should tell you about the overall legitimacy of the company.

If you see a lot of stars or complaints about delivery and customer service, steer clear.

When checking reviews, remember that you should never use the site’s own reviews page to form an opinion. Many scam sites create their own positive reviews to convince users of its legitimacy. Use official review sites instead. If you can’t find any reviews (other than those on the site itself), that’s another sign that something is wrong.

5. Check the site itself for red flags


pink and white clothing website graphic

If a duping or fraudulent website is not thoroughly checked by its creator before publication (and often isn’t), then it’s easy to spot the cracks and detect the scam.

First, you need to check for spelling mistakes. Although established websites may make spelling mistakes, this is quite rare, especially with larger companies. Second, check the prices of the products or services offered. Many scam websites offer very low prices which are usually too good to be true.

Besides these main red flags, other factors can indicate an unsafe website. Poor quality images, poor page design and long loading times also indicate a hastily designed scam website. Take note of these signs whenever you doubt the legitimacy of a site.

6. Check who owns the domain


google search page behind magnifying glass

A domain owner can be another great indicator of a website’s security. Official website domains are usually owned by large domain companies that you can easily find. So if you search for the name of the domain owner and find scam articles or no relevant results, you are probably on a duped website with a domain owned by a scammer.

There are a number of free websites you can use to find the owner of a domain. We recommend using GoDaddy Whois Domain Checker, which can quickly provide you with all the required information about a domain. But there are a number of alternatives to GoDaddy, including:

Definitely worth checking out a website first

The internet is full of all kinds of scams; so much so that you have probably come across one without realizing it. It is therefore extremely important to quickly verify the legitimacy of a website before providing any type of personal or sensitive information, as this is one of the main methods used by cybercriminals to gain access to private data.

Staying safe using these quick tips can mean the difference between dodging a scam and walking straight into this one.


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