8 ways you can save yourself and others from being scammed

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Statistics on the number of scam websites littering the internet are disturbing. During 2020, Google recorded more than 2 million phishing websites alone. That means more than 5,000 new phishing websites appeared every day – not to mention those that escaped Google’s detection. In 2021, the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) reported nearly $7 billion in losses from cybercrime committed through these sites.

What exactly are scam websites? Scam websites refer to any illegitimate website used to trick users into fraud or malicious attacks. Many scammers run these fake websites and want to download viruses to your computer or steal passwords or other personal information.

Reporting these sites as they are encountered is an important part of fighting back. In other words, if you see something, say something. Keeping quiet, even if you avoid falling prey, allows the scammers to aim at a different target.

Maybe you received a suspicious link in an email? Or maybe a strange text message that you haven’t clicked on. Fortunately, there are many organizations out there that have initiated efforts to reduce the threat they pose. Generally, these organizations put scam websites on the radar by collecting and sharing information about them. In some cases, they request an investigation into the fraudsters behind the sites.

Related: Learn how to protect your business from cybercrime

Reporting a suspicious website you’ve encountered is free and only takes a minute. Here are eight ways you can report a suspected scam website to stop cybercriminals and protect yourself and others online.

1. Internet Crime Complaint Center

IC3, as it is known, is an office of the FBI that receives complaints from those who have been victims of Internet-related crime. IC3 defines the Internet crimes it addresses to include illegal activity involving websites. Complaints submitted to IC3 are reviewed and investigated by trained FBI analysts.

2. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency

CISA, which is an agency of the US Department of Homeland Security, targets a wide range of malicious online activity. It specifically requests reports of phishing activity using fraudulent websites. Information provided to CISA is shared with the Anti-Phishing Working Group, a non-profit organization focused on reducing the impact of phishing-related fraud around the world.

3. econsumer.gov

The econsumer.gov website, operated by the International Consumer Protection and Enforcement Network, is for reporting international fraud. It is supported by consumer protection agencies and related offices in more than 65 countries. A secure version of their website is used by law enforcement agencies to share information about fraud.

4. Google Safe Browsing

Although Google does not have a mechanism for reporting all varieties of website fraud, there is a form for reporting websites suspected of being used for phishing. Reports made via the form are managed by Google’s Safe Browsing team. Google’s transparency report provides information about the sites it has determined are “currently unsafe to visit.”

Related: Is that Instagram email a phishing attack? Now you can find out.

5. PhishTank

This service was founded by the Cisco Talos Intelligence Group to “shed sunshine on some of the dark alleys of the Internet.” Phishtank includes an ever-growing list of URLs reported to be involved in phishing scams. To date, it has received more than 7.5 million reports of potential phishing sites. It says more than 100,000 of the pages are still online.

Related: 6 Ways Better Business Bureau Accreditation Can Boost Your Business

6. Antivirus apps

Antivirus vendors such as Norton, Kaspersky and McAfee have forms that can be used to identify pages that users believe should be blocked. Scam sites would definitely fall under that category. With some antivirus platforms, reporting forms can only be accessed by registered users. Norton’s is open to everyone.

7. Web host

There is a chance that the DNS service hosting the scam site will take action to shut it down. There are a number of online resources that can help you find the DNS of a particular website. Once you’ve identified it, send a message to their customer service reporting the site in question and the experience you had.

8. Share your experience on social media

This is actually more like raising an alarm than filing a report, but it can protect one of your connections who stumbles across the same site or is targeted by the same type of scam. At the very least, it might draw attention to the fact that scam sites affect real people. A post on Facebook about a close encounter you had with a scam might better equip your network to avoid dangerous entanglements. If it does, they will thank you.

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