How to Find Legitimate Websites

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Staying safe on the Internet involves surfing only those websites which are trusted, verified and harmless to your computer. Finding and identifying these legitimate websites proves to be difficult at times, especially since phishers and hackers trick you into entering sensitive information by using copy-cat fake websites. However, taking a few extra steps to make sure that you've found a legitimate website saves your time, personal information and computer from harm.

  • Check the websites you find in search engines for contact information. Look for the organization or business name, address and telephone number. Verify the listed contact information on the website by directly contacting the organization. Ask the business or organization if the website you are visiting is definitely their site. Contact information listed on a website shows that the organization has nothing to hide and can easily be located, something which malicious or un-trustworthy websites may not have.

  • Look for security certificates and measures on websites you visit. Look for a "padlock" icon in the bottom-right side of your Internet browser or right-hand-side of your address bar, indicating that the website is a secure connection. Check the URL in the address bar for "https" before the domain name, as the "s" indicates that the website is secure and not a phishing attempt. Look for third-party security logos on the website, such as VeriSign Identity Protection (VIP) network logo.

  • Check your Internet browser to make sure that the website carries an Extended Validation (EV) Certificate, a digital certificate which helps your browser identify trustworthy sites. Extended Validation Certificates sometimes appear as a green or gray box to the left of the browser's address bar that contains the organization's name. Many e-commerce merchants, banking websites and other sites where you must input sensitive identity information contain these certificates.

  • Research the business or organization before you trust its website. Perform a simple name search on the Better Business Bureau's website to check out consumer complaints and to verify the organization's information. Go to RipOffReport.com and search for the organization; read about positive or negative experiences from users concerning the website of an organization of which you're unsure.

  • Search for science and business topics on authoritative directories such as Google Scholar, PubMed or ScienceCentral.com. These search engines and directories contain links to trustworthy, legitimate websites such as industry trade journals, publications and university websites.

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