Have your clients ever reported finding a fake website designed to look just like yours? While it may not seem like an imminent threat, scammers are responsible for thousands of fraudulent websites per day. A fake website copying your content can damage your brand image, cost you money, and take advantage of your customers.
Luckily, there are steps you can take if a scammer has copied your business website. Keep reading for the best tips on how to take down a fake website and protect your band.
Unfortunately, creating a fake website is easy for scammers to accomplish. A knowledgeable scammer can steal all of your on-page information and upload it under a fake domain in a matter of minutes.
The main methods they use to accomplish this are through domain name squatting and misusing your brand name and images.
Domain name squatting is a common method scammers use to impersonate business websites. They register a domain in an existing brand name or a similar variation to an existing business domain.
With this strategy, scammers can easily fool web users into believing they are on your official site. But why would someone squat your domain name and make a fake copy of your website?
There are generally two reasons:
Creating a fake domain is just the first step an online scammer can take to profit illegally off your brand. They can also impersonate your website directly by misusing your brand name, images, and online content.
Combined with a domain nearly identical to yours, this can easily scam your customers into believing the site is yours. These fake website scams can then trick your would-be customers out of money and personal information. Cybersquatting is a serious threat to your business, and the risk is only increasing.
Unfortunately, the number of online scammers is on the rise due to COVID-19. According to the World Intellectual Property Organization, the pandemic has “fueled an increase of cybercrime” (WIPO). With so many more shoppers online and domains available to copy, scamming became even easier.
In fact, 2020 saw a record-breaking amount of domain name cases filed disputing fake sites, based on a Statista report. There is no doubt cybersquatting is a growing problem that your business needs to be protected against.
Start by checking the domain registration for your unique domain, as well as those similar to it. If you find registered domains that are very similar to your own, visit the websites yourself to view their content. You can then determine if you need to take action against a scammer.
Unfortunately, a fake website can be made in a matter of hours, even including all of your branded content. That means you would feasibly have to check these domains daily to ensure your site hasn’t been impersonated, which can be time-consuming.
Many business owners don’t have time to constantly check domains, which is where a service like Red Points comes in. By leveraging technology, Red Points can conduct the domain research faster and more broadly than your own search could reach.
Don’t panic if you do find that your site has been copied by a scammer. At Red Points, we have helped many customers determine how to take down a fake website impersonating their brand.
Start by sending a cease and desist letter to the site admin or domain registrant as soon as you discover the fake website. A domain registrant search service like ICANN should be able to pull up this information for you.
You may not get a response from the site registrant. In this case, you should send a C&D letter to the CMS platform the domain runs on. This information will likely be a familiar platform like Shopify, Wix, Squarespace, etc.
If you still don’t get a response from either the registrant or CMS platform, contact the server host with a C&D letter. These hosts, like NTT, must follow strict IP law and are likely to be more compliant with your request.
In addition to sending C&D letters, send a notification to the domain registrar as well. Many domains are purchased through large registrars like GoDaddy.com, which may be able to help.
It isn’t impossible for scammers to incorrectly register their fake domain under your name. If you see your information under a fake website, contact ICANN and report the inaccuracy.
Take extra steps to take down the fake site’s money collection system if they are attempting to sell counterfeit products. Whether it’s a specific payment company like Visa or a platform like PayPal, they should have a fraud department that can help.
Finally, you will want to ensure the fake site has not been indexed by Google. If it is, you will have to contact Google and get it de-indexed so that the site does not come up in search results.
The timeframe for getting a fake website taken down is usually 1-7 days. However, not all scammers will respond to your initial request, and the ensuing process can be long and tedious. Brand protection services like Red Points can help.
The Red Points Impersonation Removal service is one such resource that can assist if you find a fake website. It’s the perfect solution to get ahead of scammers and shut down fraudulent websites before anything negatively impacts your brand.
Just because you get one fake website taken down doesn’t mean scammers will stop targeting your business. The key is to monitor results and prevent new infringers from profiting off your brand.
With Red Points, you can trust your business and brand image are in good hands, thoroughly protected from online scammers.