How to Report a Suspicious Web Site

by Contributor

Fake Web sites that are designed to trick you into divulging information (such as social security numbers, bank account details or other personal information) are all too common. Phishing or online identity theft costs computer users over a billion dollars a year. There are some methods that you can use to easily spot a fake or scam Web site. If you do come across a suspicious Web site, there are several steps you can take to protect yourself and others from harm.

Firstly and most obviously, never go to a Web site that you believe is fake. If you do click on the page accidentally, never input any personal information on the site that may then be stolen from you.

Upon finding a suspcious page, report the fake Web site to the company that is being targeted. Many fake sites are aimed at banks or other financial institutions. The popular Paypal site-which has an estimated 100 million account holders-is also a frequent target. You can call or email your bank if you feel something is not right-they will be pleased to hear from you.

Report suspicious or fake Web sites or phony emails to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Send them a link to the site that you believe is suspicious or fraudulent as well as an explanation of how you were directed to the site in question. If you prefer, you can call or write to the FTC, instead of contacting them online. See "Resources" for the FTC Web site, phone number and address.

If you have accidentally supplied financial information to a fake or phony Web site, your credit may be affected. Depending on the extent of the problem, you may have to work to fix your credit rating. If your credit has been damaged, contact the fraud department of the three major credit reporting agencies-Equifax, Experian and Transunion.

Make sure you didn't inadvertently bookmark fake or suspicious Web sites and put them in your favorites. If you delete a site from your favorites, you can then delete it from your recycling bin as well. Some fake sites will actually appear in your favorites or bookmarks without you actually putting them there.

If you received a link to the fake Web site in an email, pay attention to where the email came from. You may want to block that sender or domain so you don't receive further email from them-and you may want to alert friends and family if they received the same message.

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