Tis the Thanksgiving season yet again and numerous consumers are preparing for the day after we give thanks. Black Friday, a huge day for retailers and the consumers who visit them. Black Friday has always been a big event, but recently the after party of Cyber Monday has gained ground. As the internet increases its popularity as a retail source, its version of Black Friday gets bigger as well. Unfortunately, Cyber Monday has a few drawbacks. The chief problem lies in the realm of fraud, as many consumers are taken in by fake websites. These websites offer services and products for cheaper prices, but in reality do not even exist. Luckily, there are ways to avoid this occurrence, the chief one being the WHOIS database.

What is WHOIS?

WHOIS is essentially a version of theYellow Pages for the internet. It is a query and response system that accesses databases for registered information. Most domain registrars offer WHOIS as a free service. Basically, WHOIS supplies the general information of the site you are looking at. It provides the name of the web site’s owner, be that a company or just a person, contact information for that entity, and finally the registrar/web host that the domain is registered under. This information can be used to vet the source. If you are on a webpage that claims its ownership by a certain brand, but when you enter into the WHOIS database another name comes up, then you know that you are dealing with a fake website.

How to Use It

WHOIS can be accessed from any computer in a variety of ways. As stated before most domain registrars offer it so it can be accessed through their individual sites. For instance, GoDaddy has a WHOIS looking up. If you are on suspicious website, you can go to GoDaddy, change to WHOIS and initiate a search. There are also specific websites like ICANN. WHOIS database download accessed through a direct website is akin to a search engine. So if you go to ICANN and use WHOIS, you input the domain name and perform a general search. The results will pop up just like any search engine. The only difference is when conducting a search through ICANN do not use the full URL. Use the domain name only. WHOIS is also directly available from our own computer operating system. If you know what you are doing you can access it using command line interface. In any case, once you access WHOIS by whatever means, you conduct a search of the domain name. WHOIS provides the general info and you can glean from it if the website is bad.

When Do I Use It

Mostly, this has to do with your comfort level. Whenever you feel something is out of place with the website, change to WHOIS and check it out. Something noticeable that tells you to look for it, is if the URL does not match. If you are on a site that says it is Coach Brand, but the URL does not say that. Also, if you receive anotice or email that you did not initiate that revolves around changing your password.

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