How to check if a website is legit?

With the internet making information easily accessible, it can be difficult to determine if a website is trustworthy. There are a few key things you can look for when evaluating if a site is legitimate or not.

Check the URL

One of the first things to look at is the website’s URL (the address you enter in your browser). There are a few things that can indicate whether a URL is suspicious:

  • Lots of numbers or random letters
  • Misspellings or odd words
  • Unrelated URLs (e.g. .net instead of .com)

For example, a site that looks like “” should raise some red flags. Legitimate businesses will generally have simpler, professional looking URLs.

Look for contact information

Reputable websites will provide legitimate contact information somewhere on the site, such as:

  • A phone number
  • A physical address
  • An email address

This information should be easy to find, commonly in the site’s footer or an “About Us” page. If there’s no way to get in touch with the company, it may not be trustworthy.

Research the owner of the site

Do a quick online search on the person, business, or organization that owns the website. See if they have an established web presence beyond that particular site.

Search for things like:

  • Social media pages
  • Other websites they own
  • News articles mentioning them

The more information that’s available about the owner elsewhere online, the more likely the site is legitimate.

Check for a secure connection

If a website is requesting any sensitive data (like a login or financial information), it should use HTTPS. This means the connection between your browser and the website is encrypted.

To check if a site uses HTTPS, look for “https://” at the beginning of the URL instead of just “http://”. You may also see a padlock icon in the browser bar.

Read online reviews

Search for reviews of the website to see what other users’ experiences have been. Look on platforms like:

  • Trustpilot
  • SiteJabber
  • Better Business Bureau

Positive reviews can confirm a site is credible. But lots of negative reviews should raise suspicions.

Evaluate the design and content

A website’s design and content provide clues about its legitimacy:

  • Professional design – A polished, modern look indicates proper investment in the site.
  • Easy navigation – Menus/search bars make it simple to find info.
  • Contact forms – Includes sections to submit questions.
  • About page – Provides background on the company.
  • Blog or articles – Having unique, original content is a good sign.
  • Working links/images – Pages and graphics load properly.

Typos, broken links, or stock photos may mean the site lacks authenticity. Quality content demonstrates time and care put into the site.

Be wary of misinformation

Use caution with sites that:

  • Make alarming health claims
  • Promote conspiracy theories
  • Don’t cite sources
  • Contain biased or inflammatory content

This type of misinformation is designed to mislead readers. Stick to sites that take an impartial, fact-based approach.

Check sites promoting products carefully

When buying something online, thoroughly vet sites you don’t recognize. Things to look out for include:

  • Very low prices compared to competitors
  • Positive reviews that seem scripted or fake
  • Details about the product but not the company
  • Pictures stolen from other sites
  • Atmospheric or exaggerated claims about the product

Use price comparison sites to confirm you’re getting a fair deal. And buy directly from a brand’s site if possible.

See if privacy policies are available

Reputable websites will make privacy policies available to users. These disclose:

  • What data the site collects
  • How user data is handled
  • Options users have regarding their data

Look for a “Privacy Policy” link. Lengthy, detailed policies are a good sign. Sites without one may not have users’ best interests in mind.

Trust your instincts

If something seems suspicious, proceed cautiously. Warning signs include:

  • Feeling pressured to act quickly
  • Prices that seem unrealistic
  • Being unable to verify claims
  • Grammatical or spelling errors
  • Strange pop-ups or too many ads

Go with your gut if you have doubts. Legitimate businesses will understand taking steps to verify they are trustworthy.


By taking the time to thoroughly evaluate websites, you can determine if they are reliable sources of information or safe venues for online commerce. While not every site needs to check every box, the more signs of legitimacy you find, the more credible the site likely is. If anything raises red flags, continue your search to find alternatives from trustworthy businesses or organizations.