There have been repeated stories lately about online fraud and what we can do to protect ourselves online.

Companies are regularly publicising their efforts to ensure that your data is protected, and taking steps to make their customers feel at ease when using their website and online offerings.

Individuals are being educated on how to say safe online through TV programs such as Watchdog, newspaper articles, online blog posts and advice given out by government agencies and even their own banks and building societies.

But what about the middle ground?

What about the browser that you use to access online websites and conduct your personal business? What about those who make an honest mistake and are deceived?

The latest news from Google seeks to protect this middle ground on their web browser – Chrome. They aim to do so by alerting its users when they are visiting a possible impostor website.

What is an Imposter Website?

An imposter website is a website that has a similar URL to that of a more established website.

An example of one is, instead of

The second ‘l’ has been replaced by a ‘1’ – something that could easily happen by accident and can be read as ‘PayPal’ if you take a quick glance.

For clarity – PayPal are well aware of these differences and accidental names in URLs and took action a long time ago to buy up these variations in domains to ensure that they re-direct to the real PayPal website.

These imposter websites can however be more subtle than a simple misspelling, some imposter websites use a variation on the domain such as instead of .com.

Once a scammer has a variation on the domain they copy the look and feel of the trusted website, making it so that if a person was to incorrectly head to their website they would be duped into entering in personal information. This has sometimes been just a name and address, but in most cases they pose as an ecommerce store or a website such as an insurance company, to take more information and even payment card details. This makes their actions far more lucrative.

Over time these types of scammers have gotten more and more deceptive and cunning, making their fake websites looking more and more like the real versions. This leaves most people unknowingly visiting these scam websites.

The Alerts

Google’s efforts to fight against these scammers results in Chrome users being alerted to the fact that they might be visiting an imposter website should they land on one of these websites.

Why have we used the word ‘might’? Its for the simple reason that whilst Google would have made every effort to pin point these scammer websites through their new imposter tool, the imposter tool itself will be heavily reliant on digital checks as its impossible for Google to manually find and check these websites by hand due to the sheer number that could be out there.

Whilst this is understandable, this automated alert does unfortunately leave some URLs being flagged up as imposters when they aren’t.

For example, if you have a URL that is very similar to a larger and more well known corporation then you may find that your website gets flagged as an imposter website. Arghh I hear many of you say – we never seem to win.

What Can I Do?

Whilst you many be at the mercy of Google’s update to the Chrome browser, there are things you can do to help restrict the possibility of your website being flagged up as an imposter website. They are:

  • If you are a new business, do your research!
    When you set up a business ensure that you do your research regarding the company name. Whilst its hard when you have your heart set on a particular name, if that name is already a brand, if the domains are being typo-squatted and/or there is a negative impact surrounding the domain name, then go for a different name.
  • If you are purchasing a domain for the first time, have a think about how easy it is to type that domain into a web browser.
    If you struggle to spell the domain, if you struggle to remember all of the hyphens, then chances are that others will do to and you run the risk of people entering the wrong URL.
  • UK based companies operating in a UK marketplace should ensure that you purchase the and .com variation of your domain.
    Buying both ensures that you can direct anyone who accidently enters the other domain to your website and that no one else can purchase the alternative domain to either typo-squat or use as part of a scam.
    If you are selling your goods outside of the UK in a different culture and language then we recommend purchasing the domain for that country as well, ensuring that you have a website that is suitable for that audience on that domain.

The most important thing to remember here is that you need to be sensible and reasonable when you buy web domains. Whilst its worth being aware of the new Google Chrome alert, its important not to panic and buy hundreds of domains. That would simply be unprofitable, unmanageable and excessive.

Here at Digital Nachos we recommend that businesses should purchase the, the .com, and any immediate variations of your domain – for example if your domain is then purchase as well.

However, if any variation of your domain is already held by another legitimate business then leave it well alone, they have the right to that domain and its in use. If they stop using the domain in the future, then you can make attempts to purchase the domain.

More importantly, if the domain is held by a domain squatter – a person or company who buys up domains in the hope that they will be sought after in the future, believing that they can charge sky high prices to those who want them – don’t entertain them. A domain should not cost you hundreds or even thousands of pounds.


So lets not end this blog post in a negative manner.

At the end of the day, any steps taken to help reduce and remove both fraudsters and scammers from our online environment is a positive step and we should embrace it.

As individuals and business owners we should be rejoicing with this news. After all, we are protected online, our customers are protected online and efforts are being taken to protect our brand and efforts online.

Hopefully other browsers will follow Google’s actions and take further steps to protect the users of its browsers.

Published: 8th Mar 2019

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