How to Tell if a Website is Legit
The Internet is filled with illegitimate websites. And major search engines index sites that have illegal advertising methods and even sometimes Trojan virus or spamware that corrupts computer hard drives or steals your personal information. Knowing this, it's a good idea to verify whether a website is legitimate before viewing it or even giving that site personal information, especially financial details like checking or credit card numbers.
Check at the bottom of most trusted websites and you will find something similar to "Veri-Sign" or a Veri-Sign logo or link stating that the website has been verified. Click on the link and check to make sure that in fact the site is legitimate before continuing to use the site.
Use your anti-virus protection to determine whether a site is valid or not. McAfee, Norton, and most other major security software programs will tell you if a site has been validated. Visit the website of the security software that you have installed or download McAfee or Norton so that you are protected against fraudulent websites.
Avoid using your credit card online in general and especially on sites you can't verify as legit. Sites that use PayPal or another trusted online payment system are much safer than those that require your credit card information to make a payment.
Do your own research on the domain. Ask a question in a search engine about the validity of the site. If other people trust it then you might be able to as well. However, if many people point towards this site as a scam or an untrusted site you might want to dig deeper before proceeding. Don't believe everything you read but take it into consideration before signing up or buying something.
Finally, try downloading a program like TrustGauge, or search for "trusted websites" online. You will be able to find other programs that give each site a ranking and will allow you to know if they can be trusted. These programs are not fool proof but they can help protect you much of the time. Your best defense against illegitimate websites is to verify all of them and stick primarily to well-known websites.