“Spoofing” refers to a website that claims to be a certain type of business or charity, when it is really a fictitious business that’s out to gain a victim’s credit card number or personal information.

Spoofing doesn’t just happen from unsolicited emails; the growing crime of identity theft by spoofing can happen right from a website that you know and trust. How? Advertisers and links to third party sites try to pose as legitimate businesses. Sometimes the ads appear to be the original site you signed on to, and then you are prompted to fill in your information again. As you click on the ad, you are actually navigating away from the page and entering your information on the fraudulent site.

To avoid becoming a victim of a spoof site, always check the address bar when navigating around on links and advertisements. You can also view the web address of a link before actually clicking on it by right-clicking with your mouse on the link. If the web address is something different from the site you intended to go to, you can then be cautious about entering information. When in doubt – don’t! You can enter the site directly by the known address and sign on there. If it’s a website you are curious about, you can check the web address on and do a little “background check” before doing business with the unfamiliar website.