How to Tell If a Website Is Legitimate
The Internet is a vast source of information and opportunity. But like anything else, there are unscrupulous individuals who try to prey on unwary users. Knowing how to validate a website's credibility is a huge asset in protecting yourself while you're browsing. A few simple steps can help you be sure that the website you are interested in is on the up and up.
Things You'll Need
- Computer with Internet connection
Look for contact information on the website. Many scam sites have no meaningful contact information. Look for a physical address, email support--and, most of all, a phone number.
Send an email if there is an address. Ask for more information. A real website will be glad to accommodate you.
Call the phone number. See if there is an answering service of some sort. Ask to speak to a representative and ask questions.
Check the Better Business Bureau (see Resources). See if the website has complaints lodged against it. There is a search engine on this site to help you track down the information you are looking for.
Search the Internet for other users who have reported improprieties. Type the website's name into a search engine with another keyword like "scam" or "complaint." You may find forums online where others have posted their experiences with the company.
Tips & Warnings
- If you are making a purchase and cannot completely authenticate a site, use a gift card. This way, even if you get scammed out of your purchase, there is no chance of anyone getting access to your bank account or credit card.
- Despite taking all possible precautions, there is no way to be completely certain a website is legit. Use common sense and be realistic--if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.