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How to Use Shortened URLs Safely

URL shorteners like and TinyURL make long web addresses compact and easy to share. However, shortened URLs can also be used for phishing attacks and malware distribution if you don't take precautions. Here are some tips on how to use shortened URLs safely.

Check the Full URL Before Clicking

Never blindly click on a shortened URL. Many popular URL shorteners have a preview feature to show you the full destination URL:

- For links, add a "+" to the end of the shortened URL. For example:

- For TinyURL links, add "preview." before the URL. For example: 

- You can also use online tools like to reveal the full URL.

Checking the full URL gives you visibility into the actual website you'll be directed to before clicking.

Be Wary of Suspicious Short Links

Shortened URLs are commonly used for phishing, spam, and malware distribution. Some signs a shortened URL may be suspicious:

- The link comes from an unknown or untrusted source

- The URL uses a strange short domain instead of popular ones like

- Descriptive text doesn't match the website URL 

If in doubt, don't click on a suspicious short URL.

Use URL Shorteners Responsibly

If you need to create shortened URLs, be transparent so people know it's not spam.

- Use descriptive text with the short URL to indicate the destination 

- Shorten URLs from your own trustworthy domain instead of using third-party services

- Avoid shortening URLs that require logging into accounts 

With some caution and common sense, you can safely use shortened URLS while avoiding potential risks. Taking a few extra seconds to preview the full link can protect you from phishing or malware.

Use a URL checker. These are just a few of the sites that let you enter a short URL and then see the full URL:

Few key points about shortened URL security

  • Check the full URL before clicking on a shortened link. Many URL shorteners have a preview feature to reveal the destination. You can also use online tools to check the full URL.
  • Consider alternatives before creating or sharing shortened URLs. Use descriptive text with the full URL when possible. Let people know they'll need to login if required.
  • Malicious actors use shortened URLs for phishing and malware attacks. Be extra cautious with unfamiliar shortened links.
  • Some common shortened URL domains like,, and are used by U-M units and can be trusted.
  • Always look before you click on a link and enter login credentials. Criminals use shortened URLs to hide malicious destinations.

So next time you come across a shortened URL, use these tips to preview it before clicking!


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