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Have you received an offer from a bank or a security or off-shore company, or perhaps a winning notification from a foreign lottery? Want to know if they're real? If you can't find your bank in our database of 419 fake banks and lottery websites, that doesn't mean it's a legitimate business! New fakes come online every day. The following tips and tools can help you identify and avoid fraudulent banks and other fake web sites. If you're suspicious about a site, contact the artists!

Fake Banks

It's the law for banks to be registered with the appropriate authorities in the country in which they are located. Even "offshore" banks are required to have a license! If a bank is not regulated /registered, it means automatically that it is fake, criminal and fraudulent. Running a fake bank is criminal offence that can be punished with imprisonment. The following sites will help you determine whether a bank is, in fact, real:

  • Old Coaster's List of Bank Regulators around the World links to Central Banks and Financial Service Authorities for over eighty countries.
  • The Bank for International Settlements Web site lists the individual Central Bank Web sites which can be used to check out banks in the countries covered. http://www.bis.org/cbanks.htm
  • Google is your friend! Search for the company name to check if they are fraudsters or legit. A legit bank will be linked to from or mentioned on many other web sites. Do an advanced search to find pages that link to the page. If nobody links to the bank - most probably it's a fake web site!

To be absolutely certain that information on a bank is correct, you should telephone the regulatory authority in that country. If the bank is real, check on the phone numbers or employee names given to you -- scammers will often pretend to work for actual companies!

Sweepstakes and Lotteries

As a rule of thumb - If you haven't participated in a lottery, how could you win?

You can find more about lottery scams on this web site.

Phishing Sites

Phishers use fake Web sites to fool recipients into divulging personal financial data such as credit card numbers, account usernames and passwords, social security numbers, etc. They abuse the trusted brands of well-known banks, online retailers, and credit card companies to convince recipients to respond to them. More information can be found at the Anti-Phishing Working Group's site. Also, here are some Tips on Spotting Fraudulent Web Sites from Paypal; they describe some ways to avoid being phished, and how to make sure you're using a secure server connection (SSL).

Other Useful Tools & Tips

  • Check the registration data: Enter the URL of their web site into DomainTools. domaintools.png You can see who has registered the domain name and how long they have been online; it also lets you know who's hosting the web site, and various other interesting tidbits.
  • Secure Online Banking: Legitimate banks protect their customer's account information! Always look for "https://" instead of "http://" on a login or registration form -- this means they use a "secure server connection," or SSL.
  • Some fake banks abuse the logos from SSL Certification companies like Verisign, TRUSTe or Thawte! If your bank is using these logos, check if they are listed on www.verisign.com or www.thawte.com

Look out for any of the following to identify abuse of their seals:

  • The site does not own a digital certificate.
  • The information on the Seal Information Page does not match the information of the site.
  • When the Trusted Site Seal is clicked, there is no information page that pops-up.
  • There have been illegal (or any) modifications to the Trusted Site Seal.
  • The Seal is being used to promote Spam, illegal activities or other questionable behaviour.
  • read more...

If you might have found a company that is using the TRUSTe seal illegally, please take a moment to let them know: Report TRUSTe Seal Spoofers. Report Norton Seal Misuse via this form.

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