A “fly by night” business is one that quickly appears and disappears, without concern for the quality of their product or service, or for legal regulations. These untrustworthy businesses often operate fraudulently. On the Internet, a fly by night business is called a “phantom website.”
Phantom websites exist to collect personal and credit card information. They can appear online any time of the year, but the holidays are prime time. They imitate the look and feel of a legitimate website, and many simply copy the web code from well-known online retailers, right down to the names and logos. They may also purchase domain names that resemble those of legitimate retailers, “typosquatting” to take advantage of mistyped searches.
Criminals may direct you to phantom websites using advertisements, even on major search engines like Yahoo and Google. These links or clickable graphics can either send you to a phantom site, or they may even directly infect your computer with malware.
Hackers and scammers also rely on black hat SEO to get their phantom websites ranked on the first or second page of search results, using the same search engine optimization techniques as legitimate vendors.
However, these scammers also game the system using techniques like “link farms,” “keyword stuffing,” and “article spinning,” which are frowned upon by search engines. Using these techniques to lure visitors will get them banned within a month or two, but that’s plenty of time to establish an online presence and scam plenty of victims.
And of course, phishing is in season all year long. Scammers send emails offering deals too good to be true, in order to draw visitors to their phantom sites. They’ll often take advantage of major holidays and significant world events to create an enticing offer. These emails are designed to trick recipients into entering account credentials, which allows the scammers to take over existing accounts or open new ones.
Protect yourself from phantom websites by only doing business with legitimate online retailers you know, like, and trust. Go directly to their websites, rather than relying on search engines, which may lead you astray. But do use search engines to check out a company’s name and look for ratings sites where customers have posted their experiences with a particular company. If you can’t find anything aside from the company’s own website, be suspicious.
And, never click on links in unsolicited emails. Just hit delete.
Use SiteAdvisor or a similar service to scan for infected links.
And invest in identity theft protection, because when all else fails, it’s nice to have a service watching your back. McAfee Identity Protection includes proactive identity surveillance to monitor subscribers’ credit and personal information, as well as access to live fraud resolution agents who can help subscribers work through the process of resolving identity theft issues. For additional tips, please visit CounterIdentityTheft.com.
ROBERT SICILIANO, CEO of IDTheftSecurity.com is fiercely committed to informing, educating, and empowering Americans so they can be protected from violence and crime in the physical and virtual worlds. His "tell it like it is" style is sought after by major media outlets, executives in the C-Suite of leading corporations, meeting planners, and community leaders to get the straight talk they need to stay safe in a world in which physical and virtual crime is commonplace. Siciliano is accessible, real, professional, and ready to weigh in and comment at a moment's notice on breaking news.
- Criminal Hackers Create 3 Million Fraudulent Websites Annually
A recent study shows that organized criminals create approximately 8,000 malicious websites every day, or over 57,000 each week. These malicious websites model legitimate websites that we visit every day, such as bank websites, online shopping sites, and eBay. According to this study, the most frequently impersonated companies include Visa, Amazon.com, PayPal, HSBC, and the United States
- Safe Searching on Your Mobile Device
The web and especially the mobile web can be a minefield of malicious links luring you to click, so bad guys can infect your device. Search engines do their best to filter these sites out but nefarious criminals have found ways to get their scammy pages to the top of search through a process called
- 5 Tips to a Secure Cyber Monday
For the past five years, Cyber Monday has been the marketing term for the Monday immediately following Black Friday. It is now one of the biggest online shopping days of the year, with 77% of online retailers reporting substantially increased sales. Scammers seek to take advantage of seasonal opportunities like Cyber Monday, so beware of the
- 5 Tips To Secure Online Shopping This President’s Day
Making a purchase online around Presidents day? Keep in mind criminals are working hard to intercept your credit card numbers in various way. #1 SCAM: Black-Hat SEO: Criminals create fake websites and then use the same techniques as legitimate online businesses regarding search engine optimization, marketing, and online advertising via Google AdWords. They use keywords to
- 10 Security Tips For Holiday Shopping
1. During the holidays, criminals engage in “black-hat SEO,” wherein they create fake websites and then use the same techniques as legitimate online businesses regarding search engine optimization, marketing, and online advertising via Google AdWords. They use keywords to boost rankings on Internet searches, causing their spoofed websites to appear alongside legitimate websites. These same
Leave a Comment
You must be logged in to post a comment.