Staying savvy online has become more important than ever before: Google scams are on the rise.
Google has recently come under fire for its inability to actively remove scam advertisements, especially those relating to financial and insurance services.
Under UK law, the Financial Conduct Authority has no legal powers to force online businesses to refuse financial advertisements, leaving Google users vulnerable to scam postings, most of which appear in prominent positions on Google’s search engine results due their location as an ad listing.
This isn’t simply a problem for the ‘get rich quick’ searchers.
Keywords which were hijacked by scammers included ‘best bonds’, ‘top isa’ and ‘best fixed rate bonds’, alongside legitimate brand keywords such as ‘Admiral claims number’; ‘NFU phone number’ and ‘Aviva claims department’.
If you are unsure about the legitimacy of a paid search result (especially if you are researching financially important transactions), we have compiled a list of tips to ensure you do not fall foul to the online fraudster’s ads.
If something looks too good to be true, it most likely is.
If your web browser suggests you leave the page – trust its judgement.
If you have visited a suspected fraudulent website and submitted your details, be aware of contact from other unknown sources about services you haven’t requested information for. Your details may have sold to other businesses.
If you have given your bank details to a suspected scammer, contact your bank and follow their advice.
If you are concerned whether the website you are visiting is the real deal, consider closing your browser, deleting your cookies and reloading the site using the organic results.
Most Google Ads results are in fact real – 1.5% of all Google staff work in roles that remove ads that violate their policies or attempt to defraud. There’s little chance of all your search results being hit with scams on a regular basis, but it is still important to stay aware of.
Google scams likely made a priority after Google themselves fell victim to a phishing attack between 2013 and 2015 [BBC News]. Google lost 100 million dollars from a male posing as an Asia based manufacturer. This attack continued undetected for two years.
To make sure ads are as relevant as possible (and not linking through to nasty websites), Google uses a quality score ranking to show fitting content to its users. This is important, as it makes it harder and more expensive for bad actors to appear on the Google search results – if they get to the search results at all.
To make sure you’re not taken in by an online financial services scam on Google Ads, you can check the Financial Conduct Authority’s register at register.fca.org.uk. This lists all current and previously approved individuals involved in regulated financial activities, where you should be able to find data on the individuals or teams you are speaking to, or planning to speak with.
If you suspect the person you are speaking to is defrauding you; is not on this list, or has provided different contact details, you should rethink their legitimacy.
Advertisers on Google Ads (including Tailor-Made Media) have to follow stringent guidelines to comply with Google’s policies, which can be difficult to understand and adopt.
Here at Tailor-Made Media, we ensure all our Google Ads campaigns are set up in an ethical fashion, ensuring all product claims and descriptions are legal, and most importantly: they’re not scams. Be in safe hands with Tailor-Made Media.
Call us today on 01904 501600, or make an enquiry through our website and we will give you a shout.