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Statistics on the number of scam websites littering the internet are disturbing. In 2020, Google registered more than 2 million phishing websites alone. That means more than 5,000 new phishing sites pop up every day, not to mention those that have avoided Google’s detection. In 2021, the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) reported almost $7 billion losses due to cybercrime committed through these sites.
What exactly are scam websites? Scam websites refer to any illegitimate website used to trick users into fraud or malicious attacks. Many scammers operate these fake websites and download viruses to your computer or steal passwords or other personal information.
Reporting these sites when encountered is an important part of fighting back. In other words, if you see something, say something. Keeping your mouth shut even while avoiding prey allows the scammers to aim for another target.
Maybe you received a suspicious link in an email? Or maybe a strange text message that you didn’t click on. Fortunately, there are many organizations that have made efforts to mitigate the threat they pose. Generally, these organizations put scam websites on the radar by collecting and sharing information about them. In some cases, they prompt 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 you can report a suspected scam website to stop cybercriminals and protect yourself and others online.
1. The Complaint Center for Internet Crime
The IC3, as it is known, is an office of the FBI that receives complaints from those who have been victims of Internet-related crime. The IC3 defines the Internet crimes it addresses to include illegal activity involving websites. Complaints submitted to the IC3 are reviewed and investigated by trained FBI analysts.
2. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency
CISA, an agency of the US Department of Homeland Security, targets a wide range of malicious cyber activities. It specifically asks for reports on phishing activity using fraudulent websites. Information provided to CISA is shared with the Anti-Phishing Working Group, a non-profit organization dedicated to reducing the impact of phishing-related fraud around the world.
The economist.gov site, operated by the International Consumer Protection and Enforcement Network, is for reporting international scams. It is supported by consumer protection agencies and related offices in more than 65 countries. A secure version of their site is used by law enforcement to share scam information.
4. Google Safe Browsing
While Google doesn’t have a mechanism to report all website scams, it does have a form for reporting sites suspected of being used for phishing. Notifications via the form are managed by Secure browsing from Google team. from Google Transparency report provides information about the sites it has determined are “currently dangerous to visit”.
Related: Is that Instagram email a phishing attack? Now you can find out.
5. Phish Tank
This service was founded by Cisco Talos Intelligence Group to “shine sunshine on some of the dark alleys of the Internet”. Phish tank contains 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 that over 100,000 of the sites are still online.
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6. Antivirus apps
Antivirus providers such as Norton, Kaspersky, and McAfee have forms that can be used to identify pages that users believe should be blocked. Scam sites would definitely fall under that category. Some antivirus platforms restrict reporting forms to registered users only. Nortons is open to everyone.
7. Web host
There is a chance that the DNS service hosting the scam site will take action to shut it down. There are several online resources that can help you find the DNS of a particular site. Once you identify it, send a message to their customer service team with the site in question and the experience you had.
This is actually more like sounding an alarm than filing a report, but it can protect one of your connections who comes across the same site or is the target of the same type of scam. It could at least draw attention to the fact that scam sites target real people. A post on Facebook about a close call you had with a scam can better equip your network to avoid dangerous entanglements. If so, they will thank you.