This blog is about Graphic Design, Vector Art, and Cartoon Illustration

August 26, 2010

How to recognize a fraudulent web site

I've been a graphic designer all of my adult life, and I've taught design for many years, so I recognize a fraudulent site by it's look. I've seen some pretty good ones and some pretty awful ones. But if you can't recognize a fake site that way, there are other ways.

Fraudulent sites are usually posing as something respectable, like your bank, or a store you know, in order to get information from you. Sometimes they just want your email address, but sometimes they want your credit card information. A good rule of thumb is to not click a link from an email. If you want to go the WalMart web site, type in the address in your browser like you normally do. In the address bar you will see "" on the main page, and the rest of the pages will say ""

The fraudulent web site in the picture above has an address that is a clear giveaway. It's just a bunch of numbers. No respectable web site is called "". In their defense, they've done a pretty good job with the design and even included links to the actual Walmart site. But they're bad guys. And if you think that a company will pay someone $150 to do a survey, maybe you're not so nice, either. If you are the kind of person who finds someone's wallet, and returns it to them, then you need have no fear of this type of practice.

This practice is known as "phishing". If you use Firefox, like I do, you can report a fraudulent web site by going to Help>Report Web Forgery. If you're tempted to visit sites like these, it's wise to have a software program that can block automatic downloads. I use the one made by Smith Micro.

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