5 Simple Ways To Tell If A Website Is Safe – FAQ Fridays

Video Transcription:

Welcome to another edition of Travelstart’s FAQ Fridays with me, Nick Paul. This week we are going to be talking a little bit about internet security and how to tell if a website is safe.

This came about because recently in the newspaper an advert had surfaced with our logo on it and the company advertising the tours was using our logo without our knowledge. You can find the article we published about it by clicking here.

We wanted to give a little bit of insight as to how to check if something is legit online and maybe a bit offline as well.

1. Thawte

One of the first ways to check if an e-commerce site is safe is to look for a ‘Thawte’ logo or see if it’s built with a well known website builder. This will usually be found in the bottom right hand corner of a website.  This proves that the website is secured by proper security certificates.

2. Secure Browsing

The true test is when you enter your personal details such as name, email and credit card numbers. On secure web browsers like Chrome you should see that the URL (web address) changes from ‘http’ to ‘https’ – ‘s’ standing for secure, and a little green lock at the beginning of the URL will indicate that it is safe.


For travel agents you will look for the IATA symbol, IATA stands for the International Air Transport Association. Travel agents that are registered with IATA can be considered more secure.

4. Social Media

Most companies will have social media links on their website which direct you to their Facebook and Twitter. Click on these to look at their profiles, check if they do actually exist and that the pages are active. Take a look what people are saying on these social media profiles. Are there complaints? If there are complaints, did the company respond and help the customer? Another important thing to check is does that company post regularly to social media? Or are these just ghost profiles that go nowhere?

One can also check the star rating reviews on each companies Facebook page to see how their clients have rated their service.

5. Contact Details

An easy one to check for are the contact details on the companies website. You should check to see if they have a local telephone number and that their email address is not a Gmail or Hotmail address. I would suggest looking to see if the company’s name is in the URL of the email, e.g. info@travelstart.com

Also check if they have a local physical address, and that they are not based overseas. If they are it might be harder to track them down. Go onto Google Street View and view the address. This is often a good way to see if a company is legitimate, as you can tell by the surrounding area in which the office is located. If it looks like the area is a bit dodgy this could be a sign that the company is not legitimate.

In Conclusion

If you see an advert in the newspaper with our logo on it and want to check it’s legitimate, mail a picture of the ad to info@travelstart.com and we’ll verify that for you.

So that’s it from me this week. IF you have any travel related questions please ask them in the comments below, we would love to hear from you. Who knows – next week we might make it into a video! Don’t forget to subscribe to our channel by clicking here.



Our Readers Comments

  1. hi

    what is the link between travelstart and helloiselands

    • Hi Zandile,

      Thanks for reaching out. Please provide us with more info or the link of the site you are referring to and we will be happy to try assist.

  2. Hey

    I’m a bit confused. You guys are displaying the Thawte logo on your travelstart.co.za page, but the whole site isn’t https secured? Would be a lot more reassuring if the entire website was properly secured, as there’s place to enter personal details on many sections of the site.

    Check out the site I linked to above. Used them to secure many of my clients’ websites.


    • Also, there’s lots of other great SSL brands, like Geotrust, Comodo, Verisign etc. 😉

  3. I was in transit at Heathrow last October for less than 3 hours and did not need any visa traveling on a South African passport where my destination was the USA, for which I had a valid visa. I hear that this changed in April 2014. Then a colleague mentioned that they have reverted to the procedures that existed last year, i.e. no transit visa required for SA passport holders as long as you are in transit for less than a few hours. Is this correct or not?

    • Hi Nigel,

      okay, from what I can see, you’re still allowed to transit the UK as a permanent South African passport holder if you’re travelling to the USA or Canada from South Africa, via the UK and your purpose for being in the UK is only for transit and you’re not in the country for 24 hours. I went via Heathrow to San Francisco in November last year and had 9 hours in the airport and the immigration officials said nothing of it.

      For word from the horses mouth: https://www.gov.uk/check-uk-visa/y/south-africa/transit/no

      Hope this helps!

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