10 Signs What You're Reading Online Is Bogus

The Domain Name
Take a look at the URL of the page you're on. Many bogus sites have names very similar to recognized, legit sources -- and that's by design. ©iStockphoto.com/Axaulya

When you evaluate a Web site for credibility, don't overlook its domain name.

Domain names that are restricted include .edu, which means this site is operated by an educational institution, .mil, which means this site is operated by the U.S. military, and .gov, which are government-operated Web sites. Government-operated Web sites include sites such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Food and Drug Association (FDA) and the Department of Agriculture (USDA), and these sites are considered credible, as are military sites such as the Department of Defense (DOD). Sites operated by educational institutions may or may not be credible -- who the author is makes or breaks an .edu as a credible resource. If what you're reading was written by a professor or researcher at a college or university, the content is probably reliable; student Web pages and blogs are not.

That leaves the rest: Anyone can own and operate a Web site on a .com, .net, .info, .org and a whole long list of other domain names, which means these domain names don't really tell us much of anything about whether or not what you're reading is bunk. Checking the domain name can tell you, though, if you're on the correct site -- some bogus Web sites use domain names very similar to brand names you trust. By double checking the domain name you'll catch any typos you may have made entering the URL, as well as verify you haven't been redirected to another domain without notification.

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