The surf's up, the sun's out and you are thinking of chucking a sickie?

One of our clients did this last week and then went searching for a medical certificate online.

Unfortunately, the site he was referred to appears most likely to be a fake website.

And yep, it looks likes he is in a fair bit of trouble.

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The medical certificate he received was fake and he may have also compromised his personal details, including his credit card.

You can get a medical certificate online, so how do you know if you're dealing with a scammer or a doctor?

The dodgy typos that were an instant giveaway on a fake website have gone. The sites can be slick, smart and appear to be registered to an Australian organisation.

A good place to start before shopping is by doing a whois.auda.org.au search on the domain name of the website and check who it is registered to. This only works for websites that are .au.

When I did this for this website, I found it was registered to a bicycle shop. Well, that made the alarm bells ring.

Then I went looking for the bicycle shop and hit more dead ends.

The bicycle shop also has what looks to be a legitimate site, with addresses in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane and contact numbers.

But when I searched what was located at each address, I didn't find any bicycle shops. One looked like a grocer's store and the other two were empty office spaces.

It is not unusual for scammers to take over legitimate Australian websites whose domain names may have expired and use them for their own purposes.

This happened to the Laidley Pioneer Village in December.

Through an unfortunate series of circumstances, the volunteers at the Pioneer Village allowed their website domain name to lapse.

It was then purchased by scammers who created a site which appeared to be selling a popular American clothing brand.

A client contacted us after buying three pairs of overalls that never arrived through Laidley Pioneer Village's website.

Why they thought a pioneer village would sell clothing is irrelevant.

When I contacted the Village, they were distraught as they had been contacted by a few people who thought they were scammers!

Thankfully, we were able to intervene and get the Laidley Pioneer Village its website back!

But the point is, you really do have to be careful shopping online, even for medical certificates.

Kathy Sundstrom is a former Sunshine Coast Daily journalist who now works at identity and cyber support service IDCARE.