Whatever you like to do online, you must be aware that not all sites are equal. While sharing information and accessing the most extraordinary resources is a great idea, there is also a possibility that it could all just be a modern-day wild-west. Anyone can put up a site and promise the world. So how can we be sure that the sites we visit are genuine, trustworthy, and not just there to defraud us?
HTTP v HTTPS
There are many things to look out for to ensure you are not being scammed, but there is a big clue in your browser bar if you are on an internet browser. Whenever you open a new page, check that your site has the crucial S in its name. The S stands for secure. Companies that value their visitors’ security will always look after their customers’ security. They will ensure that their site is encrypted in such a way as to keep data as secure as possible. The S is a good indicator of the trustworthiness of an online site. However, it is not the only thing you need to look out for.
Choice of Web Browser
Just as not all websites are equal, the same can be said for the web browser you use to access all those sites out there. A secure browser is strengthened with an extra layer of security to keep its users out of the reach of potential cyber criminals. These browsers create a safelist of sites, programs, and online activities that it classifies as secure. If the user tries to access a place on the internet that is not on that list, the browser blocks access to the site or asks the user if they really want to visit. Users can add sites to the allowlist if they want to. The browsers which are considered by most as the most secure are either Chrome or Firefox. Reviewers rate them equally on security but think Chrome is more invasive regarding users’ privacy.
Off the internet, if we are looking to buy something or use a service, we would not just go in blind. Traditionally we have looked to expert reviews in newspapers and magazines or asked friends and family for recommendations. Employees always ask for references for potential new recruits as well. We build up a picture of someone or something by what others say about them.
This is precisely the same on the internet, and online reviews are one of the most trusted ways to find out if what we are looking for on the internet is as described. In the early days of reviews, there was some concern that sites like Tripadvisor were allowing people to post spurious reviews from people who had not visited the accommodation or restaurant they posted a bad review about. So while peer-to-peer reviews are important, professional reviews add an extra layer of scrutiny.
The online casino industry is a prime example of one where trust is essential to attract players and make people feel reassured that the sites and the reviews are genuine. Potential players in the USA must negotiate a minefield of what is and is not legal in the state they reside in. On top of this, they need to know whether offers are genuine and if the casino sites are secure. Independent, professional review sites like Time2Play have done all the hard work for gamblers and compiled the most trustworthy online casino and betting options in one place.
If you have found a website that you like the look of, there are some easy checks that you can do to make sure it is legitimate and safe. Start off by looking at the domain name. Is it the actual domain name or a cloned one? Sometimes fraudsters add or change a letter. Subliminally it seems ok, but on closer inspection, you can see it is not the real thing.
Also, look at the content. Is the website well laid out? Are there grammatical or spelling errors? Are there problems loading the site? All of these could indicate that the site you are on is not as trustworthy as you hope. Companies invest millions in their public image, branding, and PR operations. Therefore, it is unlikely that a reputable company is going to let itself down with a shoddy site.
A trustworthy site will take data privacy seriously. A visitor should easily be able to find out the company’s policy on how their data is collected, protected, used, and stored. Look out for this information before making any online purchases. There should be a link to a page or document with this information.
A reputable site will have contact details that are easy to find so that you know who you are dealing with. No contact details should be a red flag if you are looking for a trustworthy online site.
Social Media Presence
With everything playing out on social media, reputable websites and companies take their social media presence very seriously. A good way to check out if a site is trustworthy or not is to see what other people are saying about it on Twitter or Instagram. You can just search on the social media app of your choice and see what comes up. Then look at their feed on Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, etc. Does the content look legitimate? Are there spelling mistakes? Are there links that do not work? These are all telltale signs that the operation is less than professional.
If you get a text message or email with a link for an offer that looks too good to be true, do not click on it. The chances are that it is too good to be true. Instead, check out who the email or text has come from. Is it from a legitimate email address, or is it one that is just a copy of a respected name? The same approach should be taken when you receive a message saying that your account has been compromised or you need to update your password. Again, do not click on the link.
If you think there might be any truth in the message’s contents, then go to your account and check it out there. You can also do an internet search to get an updated list of current scams to watch out for.