Helping Individuals and Small Businesses Operate Safely on the Internet


Three Steps to Spot Internet Fraud


Bad guys are always changing their phishing tactics in an attempt to lure you into a scam. They are masters at mimicking the institutions we know and trust, and they also know how to exploit our connection with friends. While most of us have learned to be wary online, few of us really know what to look for when we encounter a suspicious email or web link. Nearly every aspect of a webpage or email can be designed to trick you, except one - the URL (web address). Learn to read a URL and you will be able to recognize fraud more easily.

Find the URL

When you are on a web page, the URL can always be found at the top of your web browser window. You can also hover your cursor over a link and it will display the URL, usually in the bottom left corner of the screen. If you are on a mobile device, finding the URL can be more tricky. It’s best to check suspicious links on your computer if you can.

Understand the URL

The URL tells you exactly where you are on the Internet and cannot be faked. A link that is trying to trick you will have flaws in the URL. The wrong information will be in the wrong location. At its most basic, a URL can be divided into two pieces. The dividing line between the first and second parts is the first single “/” in the URL (ex. ). You can use this “/” and where content is in relation to it as a quick assessment of the legitimacy of a website.

Inspect the URL for Fraud

3 easy steps to judge the danger of a link:

  1. Find the first single “/” in the URL

  2. Is there a easily recognizable website or company name immediately before the first single “/” (ex. If Not, be suspicious.

  3. Does a recognizable website or company name only appear after the first “/” (ex. http://badstuff.evil/ If So, be suspicious.

Following these simple steps will increase your confidence and ability to spot fraud when confronted with a suspicious link. Still unsure if an email or link is trustworthy? Do not click on it and check with an expert.


Before founding SafeKlix LLC, Colin Moyer worked as a threat intelligence analyst serving Fortune 50 companies. He has identified more than 10,000 fraudulent websites and removed more than 1,500 from the Internet.