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AG Nessel Issues Website Spoofing Alert
December 14, 2023
LANSING – Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel reminds consumers to be cautious when shopping online to avoid spoofed websites or social media accounts posing as legitimate or well-known brands.
AG Nessel’s Website Spoofing consumer alert explains how scammers use website spoofing to create a fake website or social media account by copying another site’s content. These spoofed accounts can be used to steal your passwords, install harmful malware on your device, or to trick you into purchasing an item that you may never receive, or that may be a knock-off of the name brand you thought you were receiving.
Spoofing also harms businesses by damaging the company’s reputation, causing a loss of customer trust or even financial losses for businesses related to remediating the damage. Steps for businesses that have been spoofed can be located on the AG’s Business Identity Theft alert.
“Shopping online is a convenient way to purchase all of your holiday gifts this season,” Nessel said. “Advanced technology has made it easier by delivering ads for products consumers recently searched for. However, bad actors have also taken advantage of this technology to create and advertise spoofed websites or social media accounts intended to trick people out of their hard-earned money. Shoppers should protect themselves by going directly to the site using the URL they are familiar with.”
Oftentimes, individuals are led to a spoofed website from a phishing email or a smishing text. The message may present an urgent need to login to your account to stop suspicious activity or to avoid account cancelation. You may be directed to open an attachment or click on a link, which will contain a spoofed URL disguised as a legitimate business’ website. Never click on links or open attachments in unsolicited emails.
AG Nessel and the Better Business Bureau recommend consumers do the following to protect themselves:
- Examine the URL or social media handle to ensure the site is the real one and not a spoof. Giveaways could include misspellings, poor grammar on websites, or social media accounts that were recently created or lack reviews.
- Pay attention to the quality of the website you are directed to. Spoofed websites are likely to be of lower quality than their legitimate counterparts.
- Don’t click on links in websites or text messages, instead visit the URL you know to be true.
- Consumers can also use a fake website checker like Google’s Safe Browsing tool to help you determine if a website is real or legitimate.
To file a complaint with the Attorney General, or get additional information, contact:
Your connection to consumer protection is just a click or phone call away. The Department provides a library of resources for consumers to review anytime on a variety of topics.