We’ve all received strange messages either in emails or via chat apps claiming to be from friends, family, or well-known companies, asking us to click on a link. Is there a way to check these links without clicking them so you can figure out what’s going on?
Just like verifying that a downloaded file is safe, there are several tests you can run and below we’ll go through the simplest ones. We’ll start with a few things you can do yourself before moving on to some sites that can link check for you.
Check a link yourself
If a link appears in your browser, you can easily check whether the link is legitimate or not. On a desktop computer, just hover your mouse over the link — that is, hold the mouse pointer over it without clicking — and you’ll see text in the lower-left corner in most browsers. If you press and hold a link on a mobile device, that text also appears in a dialog box. Try these links:
With each of these two links, you could see that each takes you to our home page, www.howtogeek.com, it’s just that the second link had a different “anchor text,” the text that was displayed on the page. Generally speaking, if the anchor text and the words in the body (the URL) don’t seem to match, chances are you’re being tricked.
Aside from sites not matching, you might also see some other strange things when you mouse over a link. Sometimes it’s just a weird page name, but more often than not, scammers use what are known as shortened links to lure people in. There are many different types of shortened links, but their main characteristic is that the link contains fewer characters, and usually no longer forms a word or sentence. Here’s an example that redirects to How-To Geek.
Not all shortened links are questionable, mind you; many of them will redirect you to trusted sites. Apparently their purpose is just to make long URLs more manageable. There’s just no good way to see where they’re going at a glance, which means they’re a great tool for scammers.
Copy the address to test
If you’re unsure about a web address, whether it’s an abbreviated link or just a page name you don’t recognize, there are a number of online tools you can use to check where it’s going without having to visit it yourself . However, before we can use them, you need to get the address that the link goes to.
To get this, hover your mouse over the link you want to check, right-click it instead of left-clicking (or tap and hold on mobile), and click the in the context menu Option which reads “Copy link address” in Chrome and simply says “Copy link” in Microsoft Edge. Different browsers call this feature differently, but there will always be something along those lines.
This will copy the link to your clipboard from where we can paste it into the tools that will check it for us. Let’s see how this works.
Testing the link
Testing the link is as simple as taking the copied link and then pasting it into a specialized search engine. However, most of these don’t work with shortened URLs, so we’ll fix that first.
De-shortening a URL
To lengthen, or “unshorten” a shortened URL, you need to find a site that can. There are some that are our favorites CheckShortURL.com and untruncate. In both cases, all you have to do is paste the shortened link into the bar at the top of the screen and click the “Expand” or “Untruncate” button.
The tool thinks and you get a small report further down the page. Both of the services we mentioned also link you to websites that report whether the page you are viewing is trustworthy or not, which we can do ourselves in the next step.
verification of an address
To verify a URL, there are a few tools we can use. The most well-known is Google Transparency Report, but it’s not the greatest resource for the uninitiated. This is because it only works on specific pages, not entire websites — usually, at least.
Instead, you should try malicious websites, websites that distribute malware URLVoid. All you have to do to use it is enter the web address of the website you want to visit and it will compile a series of reports for you that will tell you if there is a problem with a website or page . As you can see below, How-to Geek passed with flying colors.
When you care less about malware and more about phishing scamwhere scammers are trying to get your personal information, check this out PhishTank, a website that compiles lists of known phishing websites. Even if the website is not in their database, you can add it.
There are more websites that can do this for you, these are just the easiest to use. Generally speaking, if you don’t know who sent you a link, you might just want to be safe and not mess with it at all; Just delete the message and forget about it.
Even if the sender claims to be someone you know, you should still be wary of scammers impersonating people close to you. You should also keep an eye out for common PayPal scams and Facebook Marketplace scams.
TIED TOGETHER: Scammers pose as family members to get your money
This article was previously published on Source link