8 ways to protect yourself and others from being scammed

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The statistics on the number of scam websites that litter the internet are disturbing. In 2020, Google alone recorded over 2 million phishing websites. This means that more than 5,000 new phishing sites appear every day, not to mention those that have escaped Google’s detection. In 2021, the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) reported nearly $7 billion in losses due to cybercrime perpetrated through these sites.

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

Reporting these sites as they are encountered is an important part of the response. In other words, if you see something, say something. Keeping quiet, even if you avoid becoming prey, allows scammers to set another target.

Maybe you received a suspicious link in an email? Or maybe a weird text message that you didn’t click on. Fortunately, many organizations have launched efforts to reduce the threat they pose. Typically, these organizations put fraudulent websites on the radar by collecting and sharing information about them. In some cases, they trigger an investigation into the scammers behind the sites.

Related: Learn how to protect your business from cybercrime

It’s free to report a suspicious website you’ve come across, and it only takes a minute. Here are eight ways to report a suspected fraudulent website to stop cybercriminals and protect yourself and others online.

1. The Internet Crime Complaint Center

IC3, as it is known, is an FBI office that receives complaints from those who have been victims of Internet-related crimes. IC3 defines the Internet crimes it tackles to include illegal activities involving websites. Complaints filed with the 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 cyber activity. It specifically requests reports on phishing activities using fraudulent websites. Information provided to CISA is shared with the Anti-Phishing Task Force, a non-profit organization focused on reducing the impact of phishing-related fraud around the world.


The econsumer.gov site, operated by the International Consumer Protection and Enforcement Network, is used to report international scams. It is supported by consumer protection agencies and related offices in over 65 countries. A secure version of their site is used by law enforcement to share information about scams.

4. Google Safe Browsing

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

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

5. PhishTank

This service was founded by Cisco Talos Intelligence Group to “shed some light 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 over 7.5 million reports from potential phishing sites. It says more than 100,000 sites 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 which pages users think should be blocked. Scam sites would definitely fall into this category. With some anti-virus platforms, reporting forms are only accessible to registered users. Norton’s is open to everyone.

7. Host

It is possible that the DNS service hosting the fraudulent site is taking steps to shut it down. There are a variety of resources online that can help you find the DNS for a particular site. Once you identify it, send a message to their customer service pointing out the site in question and the experience you had.

8. Share your experience on social networks

It’s actually more like sounding the alarm than filing a report, but it could protect one of your contacts who stumbles upon the same site or is targeted by the same type of scam. At the very least, it could draw attention to the fact that scam sites affect real people. A Facebook post about a close call you had with a scam could better equip your network to avoid any dangerous entanglements. If so, they will thank you.

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