Big Hitters Launch TrustInAds.org to Fight Ad Scams14 May, 2014 By: Doug McPherson
NEW YORK – AOL, Facebook, Google and Twitter have launched TrustInAds.org to teach consumers about malicious advertising.
The big-hitting companies hope to shine a spotlight on online ad-related scams and deceptive activities by publishing regular and timely “bad ads trend alerts” and share info with policymakers and consumer advocates.
Specifically, Facebook and Google report they’ve found “bad actors” using ads on Google and Facebook to lure consumers to websites where they were encouraged to call an 800 number for tech support. The scammers often present themselves as official representatives of companies of the products for which the users were needing support, and have them download and install software as the initial step to solving their issue. The software often contains malicious software with viruses, spyware, adware, keystroke loggers and other harmful applications.
Rob Haralson, executive director of TrustInAds.org, said among legitimate online ads offering valuable tech support services to consumers, scam artists are preying on unsuspecting Internet users. “These bad actors, often highly sophisticated, go to great lengths to hide under the radar from the manual reviews and automated filtering technologies used to catch fraudulent ads,” he added.
Google and Facebook have reportedly removed more than 4,000 suspicious advertiser accounts linked to more than 2,400 tech support websites.
Haralson said while most ads are safe and legitimate, there are scammers seeking ways to exploit consumers. In many cases, scam ads appear normal and harmless on the surface, but may redirect people to webpages that can install malware to a computer or mobile devices, direct them to scam or phishing websites, or try to sell them counterfeit goods.
“Ads fund today’s Internet and help businesses grow, and we want to keep people’s experience with ads positive for everyone on the Web,” Haralson said. “It’s important for everyone – people, marketers, platforms, and policymakers – that the ecosystem thrives.”
Consumers can report suspicious ads they see on AOL, Facebook, Google and Twitter’s platforms at trustinads.org/report.