HomeTechnologyImposter websites and how to spot them

Imposter websites and how to spot them

Online scammers have taken their tactics to a whole new level, making spotting their fraudulent activities harder than ever. The scammers have upped the ante by creating and registering imposter websites that look like the real deal.

These sites even have ‘scam warning’ banners to fool consumers into believing they’re actually protecting you from scams. They include ‘real’ phone numbers that can be called to ‘verify’ the imposters as supposedly genuine.

The Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) has issued an alert warning consumers to be wary of these imposter websites. What makes the use of these websites particularly galling is that they prey on vulnerable people seeking protection from scams.

How to spot imposter websites

Very few scammers feel guilty about who they target, vulnerable or otherwise. Unfortunately, therefore, it is incumbent on consumers to arm themselves with the knowledge to best protect themselves from falling victim. 

With that in mind ASIC has issued guidelines for spotting these imposter websites via three major steps: Stop, Think, Protect. These are detailed below.


It can be very hard to identify fake websites, so it’s important to be very careful when considering making investments. Don’t give personal information or act on investment advice you’ve found on a suspicious looking website or social media post. Don’t feel pressured to invest. If you have any doubts at all, stop communicating with them.

Think – are there clues that this could be an imposter website?

Sadly, scammers will even use fake news articles or fake paid content promotion directing you back to the imposter website. When clicking on links, study the URL (the address displayed when you hover over a link). Do not click on suspicious links.

Do everything you can to independently verify who you are dealing with. If that proves difficult, it may be a further red flag against who you’re dealing with. Check company details through open-source searches and on the legitimate company website.

Look up ASIC’s investor alert list to help keep you informed about investments that could be fraudulent, a scam or unlicensed. Inspect ASIC’s professional register to see if the licensee is authorised to provide services to retail clients. For the Australian Financial Services Licensee, check the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) website.

Check the phone number is real. Imposter websites can be backed up by scammers waiting for your phone call. Only call the number if you have been able to independently verify it is a number for the genuine company.


Check before you invest. Is the company offering the investment licensed with ASIC? Make sure you understand what they are offering. Check again if the offer is real and that it’s not a scam. Know your rights if things go wrong.

The steps you can take to help answer these questions and protect yourself can found on the federal government’s Check before you invest page. 

ASIC’s alert page also provides several screen examples of some of the sites that have been identified as fake. These are well worth having a look at because some do indeed look genuine.

While the protection mechanisms provided by ASIC and genuine financial institutions continue to evolve, so too do scamming schemes. Vigilance is one of our key defences and, sadly, suspicion is another. 

Have you come across imposter websites that look like genuine financial institutions? How did you spot that they were fake? Let us know via the comments section below.

Also read: Branch closures and bank scams – is there a link?

Disclaimer: All content on YourLifeChoices website is of a general nature and has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. It has been prepared with due care but no guarantees are provided for the ongoing accuracy or relevance. Before making a decision based on this information, you should consider its appropriateness in regard to your own circumstances. You should seek professional advice from a financial planner, lawyer or tax agent in relation to any aspects that affect your financial and legal circumstances.

Andrew Gigacz
Andrew Gigaczhttps://www.patreon.com/AndrewGigacz
Andrew has developed knowledge of the retirement landscape, including retirement income and government entitlements, as well as issues affecting older Australians moving into or living in retirement. He's an accomplished writer with a passion for health and human stories.
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