Scamadviser Algorithm Explainer

March 4, 2019

Fighting online scams is a 24/7 job, and we couldn’t hope to do it without the help of our sophisticated ScamAdviser algorithm.

An algorithm is simply a set of rules and indicators that our systems follow, and check on any website you type into our handy search bar. This enables us to give you a simple and easy to understand ‘Trust Score’ (as a percentage) within seconds.

While we can’t reveal everything about the analysis taking place behind the scenes (otherwise the scammers would know too!), we hope to give you enough of an idea of how the Trust Score is generated for any given website.

Adding and Subtracting: Counting Our Way to the Trust Score

The core principle of our Trust Score is that it is based on positive and negative indicators. Certain factors will increase a website’s score, whilst others will decrease it. The Trust Score is decided by taking all the relevant factors into account! Keep in mind that the Trust Score is dynamic and can change over time as new data is gathered, such as changes in the website's content and infrastructure, or new user reviews.

If you are a website owner, you can view the 'Positive Highlight' and 'Negative Highlights' on the Trust Score page to know why your website has been awarded a certain Trust Score.

The Positive Indicators


A website's Alexa Rank (no relation to Amazon Alexa) is a reliable indicator to judge the website's popularity based on the volume of website visitors in a given time frame. The popularity of a website can be a key indicator of how reliable it is.

If a website has a lot of visitors, it can often mean that it has engaging and credible information/products/services to offer to users. A scam website that is very new, has a terrible presentation or is full of harmful ads will fall down this ranking as users will not be going there very often.

Social Media Activity

Websites know that they can live and die based on their social media engagement. Most businesses recognise that this cheap and global communication channel is vital in the success of their business. So, they tend to be on their social media accounts a lot by pushing their products and offers, responding to consumers and creating buzz.

Scam websites are often not too bothered by this, as it takes effort and resources to maintain social media pages. Therefore the ScamAdviser algorithm can check if a site has active social media accounts and will adjust the Trust Score accordingly.

Positive Reviews

Consumers want to voice their opinions on great websites. Whether it's great service, great prices or exclusive deals, consumers want to reward a great experience with a positive review. So, it’s a no-brainer for ScamAdviser to use this source of consumer knowledge in our Trust Score.

We take into account not just reviews on itself, but also other popular review platforms such as TrustPilot, SiteJabber and Web Of Trust. If consumers are happy with a website, we’ll be sure to take this into account when calculating the Trust Score!

Performance of the Website

The speed and technical proficiency of a website is crucial for many reasons. First of all, website owners want their website to be as slick as possible for their users. This also has an effect on the Google ranking of a website.

The priorities for scammers often differ. Their time and effort is spent on directing users to their sites through spam, fake advertisements and malware. Therefore they can have sloppy, inefficient websites. Our algorithm takes this into account and will reduce the Trust Score based on poor performance in this area.

Security of the Website

Noticed that little padlock on the address bar? Well, that means that the website has HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) and therefore there is an added layer of security when you and the website are communicating with each other over the internet.

There are other technical methods a website can use to add security to your browsing experience. But these often cost time, resources and will be checked by a third-party…all things scammers don’t want to happen.

Our algorithms peek into the website and verify the level of security, deciding the score depending on what it finds!

The Negative Indicators

Based in a High-risk Country

This is often a highly-debated point when it comes to our Trust Score rating. When it comes to certain scam activities, there are patterns related to the geographical location of that particular website.

This does not mean that we blindly reduce the Trust Score of sites from any particular region. We also take into account the factors mentioned here for the algorithm to evaluate whether the website is suspect and if to reduce the Trust Score.

Website Ownership

Website creators will often have to note down certain details about themselves - such as name, company name and contact details - when registering the domain name. However, there are methods to disguise the identity of the owner/s, such as the paid Privacy Protection service offered by many domain registrars (nowadays included as a 'free' value-add by some domain registrars). The domain registrant's identity could be purposely hidden for perfectly legitimate reasons such as avoiding marketing spam but is also used by scammers trying to evade being caught.

Genuine businesses usually have nothing to hide and do not hide their company data from the registration. Therefore, we take this indicator into account along with other factors to evaluate if the Trust Score should be lowered.

Age of the Website

Scam sites are usually run as 'hit-and-run' operations, meaning that the site is created with the intention of being quickly shut down by the owners after scamming a lot of customers. Rarely do we see a scam site operating for more than three to six months. Scam sites don’t have a long shelf life as the sites get shut down within weeks by the owners themselves or due to other reasons such as users complaining, the ISPs (Internet Service Providers) or search engines blacklisting them, etc. 

Scammers know this very well and will set up new scam sites at a rapid pace. ScamAdviser’s Trust Score takes this into account and will check the age of an online store. If we can see that, alongside other scam indicators, a website has not been active for a long time, it will have a lower Trust Score. As the website’s age increases, so will the Trust Score, assuming there are no other negative indicators. 

High-risk Server

Every website has to live somewhere, and that home is called a server. But servers often don’t have just one website on it. Oftentimes, scammers will pick hosts who do not mind questionable content. This means that these server hosts have a lot of content that is of the less reliable kind.

Our Trust Score can see the big picture, and track the scam sites that are clustered on one host. The algorithm can then reduce the Trust core of future sites that decide to make those high-risk servers their home.

Ecommerce Platforms

Platforms such as Shopify and its Chinese counterpart Shoplazza give small businesses an easy way to set up shop online. On the flip side, the ease of creating websites provided by these platforms is exploited by scammers to create a large number of fake stores in a short time. Our algorithms take this fact into consideration and use it for determining the Trust Score.

And More…

Of course our algorithm is complex and constantly evolving. These are just some of the factors that are at play when a website is assessed by our algorithm. We can’t give everything away here, otherwise, the scammers will catch on!

Just be safe in the knowledge that we never just ‘sit on our hands’. As scammers adapt, so do we. All so we can protect our users. Stay safe and don’t forget to Check ScamAdviser Before You Buy!

Report a Scam!

Have you fallen for a hoax, bought a fake product? Report the site and warn others!

Help & Info

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