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Brand Protection
4 mins

How to report a fake business website

How to report a fake business website
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Table of Contents:

    Thousands of fake business websites are created every day by scammers, which can end up damaging your brand reputation, ruining customer loyalty, and severely affecting your revenue. 

    Thankfully, there are proactive steps that you can take to report fake websites and get them taken down before they can cause any damage to your business. 

    In this article, we discuss:

    • What’s a fake business website?  
    • Impact of fake websites on online businesses
    • Steps to report a fake business website

    What’s a fake business website?  

    Fake websites are scam internet sites that use malicious or fraudulent techniques like domain spoofing and website impersonation to trick end users. The goal behind creating fake websites can be multi-fold, including selling counterfeit products, perpetrating data theft, or stealing credit card information. Some scam websites are also made just with the goal of maligning a business’s reputation. 

    Most fake business websites usually follow these steps to lure and deceive users: 

    • Bait the user: Scammers can get users to the website through different channels including paid advertisements and black hat SEO (which helps fake websites rank higher in the search engine results).
    • Compromise the user: Users are encouraged to take an action on the fake website, which ends up exposing their private information to the scammer. This can include encouraging users to make a purchase to capture their banking/credit card details or luring users into clicking on suspicious links which can lead to malware getting downloaded on their device.
    • Fraudulent activity: Once the scammers have access to compromised private information, they can use it for personal gain.

    Impact of fake websites on online businesses

    Fake websites can have a severe impact on a business’s presence online. When customers end up getting scammed on a fake website impersonating a legitimate business, they are highly unlikely to come back to the original website to make another purchase. 

    For instance, if a customer ends up buying a counterfeit product on a fake website assuming it’s the original, they are most likely to be disappointed when they receive the counterfeit and realize it does not match their quality expectations. 

    In addition to the bad customer experience, you may even get negative reviews online from disgruntled customers along with bad word-of-mouth publicity – All of which can damage your brand reputation and make prospective customers assume that your brand produces low-quality products. This can have a significant impact on your business revenue and future plans. 

    How to report a fake business website

    Scammers commit content theft to impersonate original business websites and make the fake ones look exactly like the original ones. 

    You can report duplicate websites to Google, but that will only remove fake websites from search engine results. It won’t take down the website entirely.

    To permanently take down fake websites, you need to report them to the web hosting providers or website builders that support the websites. 

    Most scammers now leverage legitimate (and often free) website builders as it allows them to bypass the usual security measures set by internet providers. While most internet providers are wary of websites that have unknown or suspicious origins, they don’t block websites supported by popular website builders. 

    Moreover, since most website builders have templates and drag-and-drop editors, it makes building a website easier and less time-consuming for scammers.

    Here are the top website builders and how you can report a fake business website hosted on these builders: 

    Shopify

    1- Fill up this form on Shopify to report intellectual property infringement. (Make sure you have a Shopify account before you move forward as only Shopify users can fill and submit this form. Your personal information like name and email address is also auto-filled in the form. You may need to add your company and contact information separately.)

    2- Provide the link and description of the original work that has been copied by scammers

    3- Provide links and descriptions of the web pages from the fake website that have infringed on your IP

    4- Click on Submit and wait for Shopify to get back to you after reviewing the complaint.

    Wix

    1- Go to this page and select the type of infringement you want to report. (Wix leverages an AI chatbot to make infringement reporting easier).

    2- You will be redirected to a different page, depending on the type of infringement. You can select copyright or trademark infringement in the case a scammer has impersonated your business website. 

    3- You will be prompted to add the URL of the fake business website along with the link to the original content. You can also add screenshots for the infringed web pages.

    4- Click on Send Report, when done. 

    Wix creates a unique ticket ID to allow you to track your complaint. It usually takes Wix up to 3 working days to get back 


    WordPress

    1- You can submit a DMCA takedown notice on WordPress through this form 

    2- Before you fill up the form, make sure you have followed these steps:

    • Verified that the fake website is definitely hosted by Automattic. If a website is ‘Powered by WordPress,’ that means it has a separate hosting provider and the site owner is only using WordPress as an open source website software. In such a case, you will have to contact the right web host.
    • Contact the website owner to see if you can resolve the issue directly. 

    If you have already followed both of these steps, move ahead and fill up the form. 

    3- Provide your personal information and additional details about the copyright owner.

    4- Share the URL of the web pages that infringe on your IP. You should provide specific web page links instead of just providing the website domain name.

    5- Describe how the IP has been infringed and provide the location where the original IP is located. 

    After receiving the complaint, it might take WordPress some time to review it and get back to you. WordPress will contact both the website owner and you when a decision has been made.

    What’s next

    Identifying and reporting fake websites before they can cause any long-term damage to your business is one of the biggest challenges you will face. Red Points’ Domain Takedown Service eases this process by automatically finding and removing fake websites taking advantage of that’s yours.

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