Tech support scammers love taking advantage of Windows and Mac users so they can persuade them to pay exorbitant fees for “repairs.” They also love appearing in online search engines, like Bing, where it’s easy to trawl for new victims.
Sadly, for the scammers, Microsoft’s search engine banned ads for those tech support services this week, “because of serious quality issues that can impact end user safety,” according to a company blog post. Though not every tech support ad is a scam, the company felt scammers were using those ads to take advantage of vulnerable consumers.
The news comes just days after Google banned ads for payday loans and about a year after Facebook unveiled a similar policy banning ads for “paycheck advances or any other short-term loan designed to cover someone’s expenses until their next payday.”
When shopping or banking online, it’s important to pay extra attention to the site’s security by looking for “https” at the beginning of a web address so you know it’s secure and encrypts personal information such as a credit card number or your name or home address.
Also beware of phishing, or emails claiming to be from a company or friend, that ask for sensitive information such as your Social Security number. Spear-phishing is a more targeted form of phishing, in which hackers go through lists of contact data looking for people who seem more vulnerable to their tactics.
If you believe you’ve fallen prey to an IT ad scam, be sure to check your credit report for any signs of fraud. The most common signs of identity theft include new and unfamiliar accounts in your name, mysterious addresses on your credit report and credit cards being declined at the terminal. (You can view your free annual credit reports once a year from AnnualCreditReport.com and see two of your credit scores for free, updated monthly, on Credit.com.)
More on Identity Theft:
- Identity Theft: What You Need to Know
- How Do I Dispute an Error on My Credit Report?
- 3 Dumb Things You Can Do With Email