One way that hackers access sensitive information is through the creation of fake websites. Creating websites that appear legitimate allows scammers to exploit consumers’ interests and needs. Despite Google’s efforts to remove illegitimate websites, it’s hard because they can be created so quickly.
Fake websites can take different forms. When Equifax was breached in 2017 the company launched a website that allowed people to see if their information was compromised. Hackers built mock websites with slightly modified web addresses in hopes of exploiting typos, a method known as typosquatting. It occurred again earlier this year when the Equifax case was settled, which prompted the FTC to issue a warning to consumers about the prevalence of these false websites.
Tech Support Scams
In other situations, hackers will build false “tech support” websites intended to trick consumers into providing remote access to their computers. To attract visitors, the hackers will buy ad space that places the websites at the top of a Google search result.
Another common feature of false tech support websites is the prominent display of a phone number. Legitimate tech support websites typically discourage people from calling and direct customers towards FAQs and chatbots first.
What Can You Do?
Due to the frequency of fake websites, we encourage you to verify websites before offering up any information.
- Whenever possible for most sites and every time for sites where you are sharing personal or financial information, make sure the websites start with https:// and not http://. [The “https" shows it is a secure website]
- Be sure you typed the correct URL.
- Google has no way to verify the illegitimacy of websites that prompt users to call a number which then leads to a consumer being scammed. However, users can download Web of Trust, a user-based browser extension uses a colored rating system to rank the security of web sites that appear in search results.
- If you do come across a website that you suspect uses malicious code to phish users, you can report the website.
If you believe you have recently been a victim of a false website, or if you have any other questions about your online security, please call us at 888-691-9319 to set up a consultation, or fill out this short form to get started.