If you are trying to earn some money on the Internet, you may often encounter scam. Scammers’ job is to cheat you by pretending their sites are fully safe and legit, but in reality, they will steal your money at some point. And they are constantly getting better at this. Your job is to identify those scam pages and tell the other people about them. Let’s make Internet safer for everyone!
How not to get scammed?
While we all know, that we always have to be very careful while investing it is not always clear how to distinquish real opportunity from dangerous fake. In this post I’ll show you, with some tips, how to protect yourself from such threat.
1. Find necessary information about a website
Check the validity, statistics and setup of the sites that you don’t trust. You may want to check for these features:
- Is there a valid HTTPS certificate? HTTPS is basically HTTP with certificate. The S in HTTPS stands for “secure.” HTTPS uses SSL or TLS to encrypt HTTP requests. Just like an ID card confirms a person’s identity, a private key confirms server identity. (it does not always means https = 100% security, but at least you know that website owners care about making it safer)
- How old is the domain? The older the domain is, the less likely it is to be a scam or become a scam. You can easily check the domain’s age as well as some other useful information about the domain on whois.domaintools.com
- Is the domain hosted by proxy? When you buy a domain, you must provide your real data, so scammers want to hide their identity by using services like domainsbyproxy.com.
- How is the page gaining popularity? Use tools like Alexa rank, backlink checkers etc. and see how they are getting traffic to their website. If it comes from legit sources it is more likely that other people has already reviewed it, because who would want to share links to a scam website? Maybe other scammers or careless ‘businessmen’ spamming with reflinks, but you don’t want to be one of them.
You can also use tools like hypestat.com to scrape some interesting information about any website.
2. Read reviews and opinions
Search for reviews about the site. You can just use Google query like “is <website> scam/legit” or “<website> reviews“.
Oftentimes there are fake reviews that’s been posted by bots/paid users/the website owner oneself. Are there lots of oddly similar reviews? You can easily check whether a website has gained tons of positive reviews or 5 star ratings in a short time. If a website is, for example, 3 months old and has got like 200 positive reviews already, there might be something wrong, right?
A perfect review should contain facts, a personal experience about the service and a payment proof of some kind.
Some of the most popular and reliable trust reviews services are reviewparking.com or trustpilot.com for example.
Also, don’t forget to search for forum/social media posts, find more detailed opinions, maybe some payment proofs, etc. You can also take part in the discussion, find out about more details or get in touch with other users that had some success earning on a particular website.
3. Scan websites and check their ‘scam rating’
There are tons of tools and services that analyze websites and, usually, they provide lots of useful information. Some of those I tested include:
- scamadviser.com – they check WHOIS database, age of the site, the amount of reviews, compare domain popularity to its age and much more.
- virustotal.com – VirusTotal inspects items with over 70 antivirus scanners and URL/domain blocklisting services, with this tool you can check any URL for malicious content.
- scamdoc.com – scamdoc makes it easy for developers to increase their websites trust score by letting them to add their personal information, so it’s easier to identify website owners. The scoring and indications provided by ScamDoc are calculated via a complex algorithm, whatever it means.
- check if a domain was blacklisted – use tools like urlvoid.com, mxtoolbox.com, blacklistmaster.com
4. Check website contents thoroughly
These are some things that you can’t miss while analysing the page:
- terms and conditions – I know most people don’t read it, but if you want to be sure, you should read it through and get acquainted with all page’s terms, maybe find some loopholes or other fishy stuff.
- legal information – do they share their real credentials like Employer Identification Number, psychical address etc? Are they a registered company of any sort? I know many websites are not run by companies, but it’s worth checking for it.
- contact form/support channel/phone number – can you easily contact support/site owners? Are they responding quickly? Are they using valid english? The first thing you can do, is just send a simple message like ‘how to do x, I’m lost’ and observe the results.
- find any ‘too good to be true‘ schemes. Earn money automatically? Not really. Even if they actually pay for some period, it is not unlikely that they might stop after they collect enough money they want from other people’s investments. Boom. ‘This page is not longer available.’ ‘i lost $5000 how do i get my money back pls’
- payment proofs – I know, they can easily be fabricated. But here’s one trick you can use – try to load more proofs, maybe find some historical data? It is easier to just generate like 30 fake payment confirmations and put it on a single page, most legit sites will try to make it more transparent.
- social pages/channels – legit pages will definitely share links to their official social pages or at least some kind of public chats like Discord or Telegram. If ‘a very popular’ page has no single social page/channel it is 100% suspicious. Why wouldn’t they want to connect their users, having access to all useful insights from them and so on?
- correct spelling and grammar – although not all websites in the world are hosted by native english speakers (oh, really??), anyone who wants to reach more audience will use english language and if they really care about user experience, they will make sure to use proper english.
And that’s pretty much everything I wanted to say. I really hope it helps someone. Feel free to comment if you wanted to add something to this. Remember: invest only if you’re 100% sure that a website you’re interested in is legitimate. And if you detect an obvious scam or get scammed, consider spreading the word about it. If you’re not satisfied with posting a single review that reveals the truth, you can try your luck reporting a fradulent website. Any domain/hosting provider has an abuse contact address. You’ve got the tools, make good use of it.
Stay safe and good luck, happy earning!