With more people relying on the internet for everyday activities, knowing whether a website is legit is essential.
It can be difficult to distinguish between a real and scam website, so it’s important to do your due diligence.
In this article, we will go over the basics of how to check if a website is legitimate in the UK and provide helpful tips for staying safe online.
Importance of checking website legitimacy
The internet has brought many advantages and conveniences to our lives, but it also comes with its own set of risks.
One of the most significant risks is falling victim to online scams or fraudulent websites.
This is why it’s essential to check the legitimacy of a website before engaging with it.
There are multiple ways you can do this and we are going to look at some of the most effective ones.
Step 1: Check the website URL
The URL, or Uniform Resource Locator, is the address that identifies a specific webpage on the internet.
Look for warning signs in the URL that may indicate that the website is not legitimate.
One of these warning signs includes misspellings or variations of well-known brands or companies.
Scammers often create websites with URLs that are similar to legitimate ones in order to trick people into visiting them and inputting personal information.
Another red flag to look out for is an unusually long, complicated, or random string of characters in the URL. This can be a sign that the website was hastily put together and may contain malicious content.
Step 2: Look for contact information
Website contact information is essential for building credibility and trust with visitors.
It shows that the business is transparent and open to communication, which can lead to increased customer loyalty and satisfaction.
Contact information should be easy to find, preferably in the header or footer of the website. The most common places to look for contact information include the About Us page, Contact Us page, or even social media profiles.
However,be cautious of illegitimate contact information that may indicate a fraudulent website.
Some warning signs include missing or incomplete contact details, such as a phone number that doesn’t work or an email address that bounces back as undeliverable.
Another red flag is if no physical address details are listed for the business.
To ensure a website is legitimate in the UK, verify any provided contact information through external sources like Google Maps or official directories such as Companies House.
It’s also good practice to check if there are any online reviews or testimonials from customers who have successfully contacted and received responses from the business.
Step 3: Check for security indicators
The importance of website security cannot be overstated, as it protects users’ personal information and prevents cyber attacks.
One way to check for security indicators is through the SSL certificate padlock icon, which ensures that data exchanged between the user’s browser and the server remains encrypted.
When a website uses HTTPS instead of HTTP, it indicates that it has an SSL certificate and thus has enhanced security measures in place.
Also, you can click on the padlock icon to view information about the site’s SSL certificate and verify its authenticity.
However, beware of sites with fake or expired certificates as they may be attempting to steal your information.
Warning signs of a lack of security include sites with no padlock icon or HTTPS protocol, suspicious pop-ups or advertisements, and unsecured payment methods.
Always exercise caution when entering personal information on websites without proper security measures in place.
Step 4: Read reviews and do research
The importance of reading reviews and doing research on a website cannot be overstated.
This step is crucial in identifying any red flags or warning signs that the website may not be legitimate.
Reviews can provide valuable insight into user experiences, customer service, and product quality.
However, be aware of fake reviews that are designed to deceive customers.
These reviews may lack specific details or use overly positive language.
To avoid falling for these fake reviews, look out for warning signs such as multiple generic positive reviews posted at the same time or review accounts with minimal activity.
And do not rely solely on the website’s own testimonials page, as these are often biased and selectively chosen.
Other sources of information include social media platforms where customers can share their experiences and ask questions about a particular website.
Online forums can also provide valuable insights from other users who have had experience with the site in question.