You may already know to avoid clicking on store web address links in an email, but did you know that even search engine results can often lead you astray to hoax or copycat sites? To avoid online holiday shopping hoaxes, copycat websites and phishing scams, I make sure I get to a website by entering the URL directly into my Internet browser’s address bar myself instead of getting to the site by searching for the company name in a search engine (Google, Bing, Yahoo!, etc.) and then clicking on one of the search results.

For example, if I want to go to the Walmart website, I enter “www.walmart.com” into my browser’s address bar instead of entering “Walmart” into Google and then clicking on one of the various links that comes up in the search results. Links that appear on the second or third page of your search results are more likely to be fraudulent than results that appear on the top of the first page, but that isn’t always the case. If you are unsure of a store’s correct web address, it is always the safest policy to call up the store and ask. Many scam/copycat websites will often use a slight misspelling (e.g., www.eebay.net instead of the www.ebay.com) or a different domain name (e.g., www.ebay.net instead of www.ebay.com). Typing in the correct address directly is a small step that can help avoid big trouble!

Don't Let a Search Engine Lead You to a Copycat Website