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How to make sure a website is safe and avoid scams as new online checker launches

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A new website is being launched to help keep internet users safe from fraud online.

Get Safe Online has partnered with Cifas, the UK’s leading fraud prevention service, to launch ‘Check-a-Website’.

The feature will let users check if a website is safe to use before accessing it and is expected to prevent thousands of people in the UK falling victim to online scams every year.

These websites are designed to steal the financial and personal details of users – which are often used to facilitate identity theft.

Criminals are increasingly turning to the internet to target victims, with malicious and spoofed websites becoming increasingly sophisticated.

The latest data from Cifas revealed that there was a 43 per cent increase in cases involving identity fraud filed to the National Fraud Database in the first three months of this year when compared to the same period last year, with nine in 10 instances of identity fraud taking place online.

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As such, being able to check a website before clicking on or purchasing something from it, will hopefully help many avoid falling into a fraudsters trap.

Users simply have to type in the address of the website they want to check, and their results will appear within seconds.

Provided in the UK by Get Safe Online, in conjunction with Cifas, ScamAdviser and other partners, it uses an algorithm to provide a trust score based on more than 40 data sources as well as thousands of reports of malicious websites from law enforcement agencies, regulators and consumer brands every week.

To check a website to see if it is legitimate, click here.

Tony Neate, CEO of Get Safe Online, said: “For over 15 years, Get Safe Online has been providing online safety advice and tips for individuals and small businesses to ensure all of us can use the internet safely and with confidence.

“The internet is amazing but, as with so many things, there are downfalls to look out for when using it – scams, fraud, people trying to exploit you and your personal information.

Mike Haley, chief executive for Cifas, said: “This is a great tool for aiding consumers in the continuing fight against online fraud.

“The devastating impact of fraud can result not only in the loss of income or sensitive personal information, but also a loss of confidence when navigating an increasingly digital world.

“By being able to quickly check whether the website you’re visiting is credible, you can be safer online, reduce your exposure to illegal websites and have peace of mind knowing that you are defending yourself from cyber criminals.”

The tool was originally devised in 2012 and has been the subject of continuous improvement by the ScamAdviser technical team ever since. It has been used successfully in the Netherlands and Portgual, and the UK is the latest country to benefit from its unique capabilities.

It comes at a time when there has been a rise in the number of scams, with fraudsters taking advantage of the cost of living crisis.

More than £1.3bn was stolen by criminals through authorised and unauthorised fraud in 2021, official figures from UK Finance show, with authorised scams up by 39 per cent in value and 27 per cent in volume.

Authorised push payment (APP) fraud is one of the most common scams, whereby the customer is tricked into authorising a payment to an account controlled by a criminal.

Last year, criminals impersonated a range of organisations, such as the NHS, banks and government departments via phone calls, text messages, emails, fake websites and social media posts to trick people into handing over their personal and financial information.

On the back of the figures, experts called for the banking industry as well as telecommunication firms to do more to help prevent fraud.

Paul Davis, director of fraud prevention at TSB, said: “These alarming fraud losses demand urgent action from social media and telephone companies to protect their users from relentless scams that are far too easily carried out online and via phone.

“It’s disappointing the industry’s fraud refund rate has barely increased, with over half the money stolen by fraudsters still not refunded to victims, at a time when people’s finances are already squeezed by a cost of living crisis.”

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