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Websites: How do you know what's real and what's fake? (CA)

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As handy as the internet can be for accessing information, shopping and helping with daily tasks, there are pockets of the online world that can be misleading and fake. And for older adults it can sometimes be difficult to spot the difference.

According to Public Safety Canada, here are some tips you can pass on to your senior loved one to help them identify the good sites versus the bad ones:

News Sites:

  • Writing Quality: Real journalists are usually excellent writers, but fake news sites often have typos and poor grammar. Also, remind them to watch out for “click bait” headlines that over-embellish a story and mislead readers.
  • The Source: These days, anyone can create a website. But not everyone can write a good quality, balanced news story. Inform your senior loved one that the best place for them to get their news is from popular and reputable news sources, instead of small blogs or websites that don’t look professional.

Retail or Banking Sites:

  • The URL: When shopping or banking online, remind them to check the URL to make sure it says “https” – as the “s” stands for “secure.” Also, to look at the URL for a padlock symbol. This indicates that the site has a secure connection, making it safe to share sensitive information.
  • Working Telephone Number: Tell your senior loved one that if they’re at all unsure of the site they’re shopping on to give the phone number on the website a call to see if it goes through to a legitimate business.

There are plenty of other tips that will help you identify a scam online. For more information, visit

Last revised: February 8, 2017

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