Hopefully, everybody who has used the internet is aware that not everything you see online can be trusted. Simply because something appears to be trustworthy does not indicate that it is.
However, being aware that fakes exist in the environment and recognising them are two distinct things. It is critical to understand how to identify counterfeit content online to prevent wasting time, money, or damaging your property. Here are seven aspects that are frequently imitated online, along with some tips for detecting them.
1. Download Buttons
Fake download links proliferate over the web via Google’s AdSense advertisements, as criminals constantly manage to get them through. Worse still, they frequently appear in places where legal downloads are available. If you select the incorrect one, you will wind up downloading ineffective or harmful software. Fortunately, there are a few simple techniques to determine whether you are staring at a bogus download button.
If you notice an advertisement next to a download button, it is not genuine. Another giveaway is the blue triangle AdChoices branding in the ad’s corner. If you click and drag a download button and the image changes in response to your mouse movement, it is an advertisement.
Finally, you may hover your cursor over a link to determine its destination. In the bottom-left corner of the majority of browsers, you will notice the destination. A genuine download link will contain the name of the software or website being downloaded. If the URL begins with googleads or something similar, it is an advertisement.
You can significantly decrease your chances of clicking a fake download button by sticking to trusted websites for downloading software.
Visible spam emails are easy to spot. However, what about phishing emails that want to steal your personal information or trick you into downloading malware? Often, these look like real emails from your friends or trusted entities like your bank.
Keep a few principles in mind when determining if an email is real or not.
To begin, verify the sender’s identity. Despite the fact that spoofing a message and making it appear to originate from a reputable email address is feasible, most phoney emails are sent from a false address. If you’ve received official communications from a @paypal.com address and this one comes from @paypalservicealerts.com, there’s a problem with your account. Emails that appear to be from your contacts are likewise affected.
Consider the message’s content while determining if it’s authentic. Legitimate businesses will never contact you for your credit card number, social security number, or password. To terrify you into clicking, phishing emails are typically intended to provide fraudulent receipts for expensive subscriptions, such as the App Store scam.
Hovering over a link in an email will show you where it takes you, just like checking download buttons. An official email should direct the recipient to an official site. Don’t click on a link with an unusual domain name.
Go to the website directly if you’re unsure about an email you’ve received. When you log in to PayPal, you will be notified if more information is required from you.
3. Update Notifications
Some apps update automatically, but others prompt you to apply updates manually. Because you probably are not expecting to see these, ads disguised as update prompts are a famous fake. It happened recently with a variety of fake sites offering “urgent updates” for Firefox.
If you see a pop-up or notification anywhere online telling you to install a “recommended” update for Java, Flash, or other plugins, do not click it. Programs do not use random pop-ups from a website to tell you about updates. Prompts that appear to update the software when you first boot your computer is almost always safe unless you have adware installed.
Like phishing emails, you should always open the software in question when in doubt and check for updates manually. Nearly all apps have their update checker under Help > Check for Updates or similar.
Reading other people’s reviews might help you determine if a product is right for you or not. As expected, they are commonly fabricated to boost the reputation of a product in an effort to raise its value. Because of this, you should not rely on the reviews you find on Amazon and other buying websites.
Overuse of keywords, odd wording, and nonspecific praise are all signs that a review is phoney. With the help of technology like FakeSpot, you can sift through the bogus reviews much more quickly and easily.
Keep a lookout for reviews on sketchy websites that are purely honey-based (i.e., no product was utilised). Comments of appreciation or five stars are often seen without any context or identities attached. In most cases, this is an indication that you’re on an untrustworthy site.
Fraudulent websites are frequently linked to fake emails. If you click on a link in an email or click on an advertisement, you may be sent to a fake website.
Checking the URL is the most crucial strategy to avoid bogus websites. Scammers can develop plausible bogus websites, but not utilise the genuine URL. This is a common feature of fake websites:
- Lots of dashes (best-online-deals-everyday.com)
- Using numbers or symbols in place of letters (paypa1.com, 0nlinebonk.com)
- Unusual domain extensions, like .biz.
- Domain trickery. Always remember that the last string of characters before the extension (.com) is the actual name of the site. A counterfeiter could set up paypal.fakesite.com and banking.fakesite.com—both are part of the fake site.
Also, if you see poor English grammar across a website, it is probably bogus. Fake sites are often produced in areas where English is not the primary language; legitimate companies take care to avoid careless mistakes on their sites.
Take a look at the contact and copyright information at the bottom of the page too. If you do not see any clear ways to get hold of the company, spot typos in the copyright statement, or the copyright is years old, and it is likely fake.
Nobody online is who they seem to be. Your online “perfect guy” may be a loser. Posing as a government official may also be a foreign fraudster.
Be aware of fake profiles on social media, particularly Facebook. People’s profile photographs are frequently stolen. Their friends will be approached for money or links to scam sites.
To avoid awkward situations, call your friends instead. Ignore a friend request from a buddy.
Otherwise, be wary of strangers online. Don’t take things literally. Usually, the truth comes out after five minutes.
Thanks to Photoshop and people’s willingness to share anything, hoax images have been popular for quite some time. With more powerful image editing tools available today, it can be difficult to tell if something is real or manipulated.
Often, images of text spread around social media, claiming old myths like Facebook is going to start charging money. Unless you are a Photoshop expert or the image has an obvious blunder, you will not be able to detect manipulation on your own. Try using a tool like FotoForensics to analyse an image for you.
Reverse searching images on Google is an excellent way to find out more about them too. If you search for an image and it brings up tons of articles about a hoax, you know it is not real. Our tips on avoiding fake news during a crisis will help here.
Avoiding Online Fakes and Scams
Now you know seven frequent internet content fabrications. It’s not always easy to tell real websites, emails, and photographs from fakes.
Using these tricks can help you see through falsehoods more easily. The rest comes with practice.
Otherwise, exercise caution while dealing with strangers online. Please do not take things at face value. The truth usually comes out in five minutes or less.