How to Tell If a Website Is Legitimate

By Brandon Pierce

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

Step 1

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.

Step 2

Send an email if there is an address. Ask for more information. A real website will be glad to accommodate you.

Step 3

Call the phone number. See if there is an answering service of some sort. Ask to speak to a representative and ask questions.

Step 4

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.

Step 5

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.