NOTE: Some of the contents of this article are depreciated since newer versions of IE and Firefox don't allow you to change the status bar message this way.
One way to spot a scam is to recognize when someone is giving you a direct link to a company and when it is an affiliate link. Affiliate links are not always scams. I am affiliated with quite a few companies and it helps support this website. I try to make sure that the companies I am recommending are legitimate and trustworthy before I am willing to offer an affiliate link on my site and I identify all affiliate links that I provide. Not all web pages do this and it is easy to mask an affiliate link. But there are still tricks to help you discover the truth.
If you use Internet Explorer, you'll notice that the web address appears in the lower left hand corner of the page. If you hover your mouse over the links on the left hand page, you'll notice how the address appears. However, this doesn't work with all browsers and this can be masked.
To show you, I'm using my affiliate links to CXDigitalMedia. CXDigitalMedia is totally legitimate affiliate network.
Here is my generic affililate link to them:CXDigitalMedia
If you use your mouse and right click it and select "properties" you'll discover that the link reads "http://www.cxdigitalmedia.com/affiliates/newaffiliate.html?par=12759"
You have to right click and check the properties of the link because, as I said before, links can be masked. For example, here's the same link but this time it is masked. So when you hover over it, it appears to be "http://www.cxdigitalmedia.com" but it is really the same link as before.CXDigitalMedia
Using some html code, I can make whatever I want appear when your hover your mouse over the link. For example, hover your mouse over this link. See what I'm talking about?
Many banners are affiliates. Also, if the link address doesn't match the site you are sent to or if the address has a bunch of letters or numbers at the end, it's probably an affiliate link. Finally, anytime you see one of these phrases as part of an http address, suspect that it is an affiliate link: