Caution! 5 Types of Websites You Should Never Click On

scams

Careful what you click on around the internet | Source: Apple

The web is a big place, filled with information on just about anything you can think of. We’ve covered several times in the past sites we think you should check out, whether it is hot coupon and promo code sites, the best ones to plan your next summer vacation, or even ones that help guys find the best personal stylists. While these are all great (and legitimate) web sites to check, there’s also a dark side to the web. These are places where criminals and troublemakers hide, and can put you at risk if you’re not careful. This list of sites are places we want you to avoid, along with ways to spot scams. Good luck, and stay safe!

1. Websites without good security

If you are making a purchase online, the first thing you should do is be sure that it’s taking proper security measures to protect your personal information, Boston University says. First off, the web address should be a secure one, meaning the URL starts with “https” rather than “http.” If you put information into a site using the latter, it is not encrypted and easily snooped on by hackers.

Your browser should also display a lock icon somewhere (typically in the address bar). The nice thing about this feature is you can click on it and view the site’s security “certificates.” These certificates are something the website must apply for, and go through a validation process where the service issuing the certificate verifies that it’s safe.

A quick note: sometimes even legitimate sites forget to renew these certificates (they do expire). This doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad site or their security is no longer effective. If you run into this, it’s a good idea to contact the store directly to ensure that there are no issues before proceeding.

2. Websites with weird URLs

scams

Look close at that URL before giving the site any information | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

While these days it’s really easy and cheap to purchase a domain name, the URL itself can still be a good way to determine if a site is potentially harmful. Be wary of sites hosted on free website services like Wix or Weebly. TechGuy Labs recommends reading a URL from right to left to get an idea where it’s coming from. If it doesn’t end with .edu, net., com, etc. and instead with two letters, those two letters will tell you what country the site is from.

The next part from the right is the domain. This should in many cases be the only other thing in the web address besides the “www.” prefix. If there’s something else there, different from the name of the site or company you’re looking for, it’s more likely than not a fake website, TechGuy Labs argues. An example of what this could look like is www.usbank.hackers.com, where the URL attempts to mislead users with the “usbank” portion when the site would actually be “hackers.com.” This isn’t a foolproof way to find bad websites though, so we recommend using other steps recommended here in conjunction with inspecting the URL.

3. Websites with odd-looking content

scams

Watch out for quality issues the real site wouldn’t have | Philippe Huguen/AFP/Getty Images

If you’ve already clicked on the site that you have concerns about, no worries, you might still be safe. The next thing you need to do is take a look at is the content, Neurogadget says. Those who make malicious sites don’t really have the time to make sure everything’s perfect, they just want it to be close enough to be believable. Look for spelling and grammatical errors.

Also look through the content. Does it seem generic? Does what it’s asking you to do make sense? Does it seem gimmicky? Always proceed with a skeptical eye and your instincts will likely not lead you astray.

4. Websites with malware

scams

Source: iStock

Malicious websites in many cases will attempt to install malware on your PC, Makeuseof writes, and in many cases appear on sites that meet some of the criteria we’ve set here. For this reason, you should only click on links that you trust, and be wary of visiting sites sent via e-mail or other means from people that you do not know.

This is not to say you could get infected anyway as the result of the bad decisions of others. The best thing for you to do is to run some type of antivirus software that also constantly monitors your web traffic. This way the malware and the site can be blocked before an infection occurs.

5. Websites that seem like ‘clickbait’

scams

Some scams are perpetuated on social media | Saed Khan/AFP/Getty Images

The Better Business Bureau notes that an increasing number of malicious sites are appearing in response to major news events, and then spread through Facebook and other social media services. Typically they’ll make some type of controversial or outlandish claim about a news event or celebrity in an attempt to get you to click.

These clickbait scams will typically use words like “exclusive,” “shocking” or “sensational,” BBB warns. They recommend you hover over the link, and check the URL much like we’ve already suggested you do. If your friends have already liked it, check in with them before you click to make sure it isn’t a scam. Finally, report any scam links you find on these social networking services to the social network itself. They’ll remove it and ban the site from posting to prevent others from being scammed.

Follow Ed on Twitter @edoswald