Google is adopting new measures to prevent reportedly widespread tech support scams that fraudsters perpetuate through its ads. The search giant plans to introduce a verification system that will restrict tech support ads globally, according to its blog post.
In the report, Google disclosed shutting down 3.2 billion bad ads of different types in 2017, with an average of 100 ads for every second. The barred ads which Google said violated the company’s policies were under ambiguous categories such as bail bond services and rehab centers. Callers were subjected to paying a large sum of money for “support” they have no need for.
Google ads do show above search listings and in some cases, could bear false web addresses to lure users into thinking their services are legitimate. The search giant identified the new support verification system as an approach to further shutdown bad ads, though it can only increase the odds of getting help, not completing guaranteeing users they won’t get scammed. And screening advertisers with too many services difficult to ascertain the genuineness would go a long way in helping the campaign.
The verification system, which Google would be introducing in the “coming months,” is not the first measure Google has taken to protect users from harmful, inappropriate and misleading ads, but specifically unique. The new technology improves its resources for eliminating ads from its search results once it detects a high number of scams targeting a specific category.
Google’s director for global product policy, David Graff, through the blog post, said that the company has identified an increase in deceptive ads coming from support providers from third-parties. To clamp down tech support scam, Google is implementing ads restriction in this category worldwide.
Google has for many years consulted government and law enforcement agencies in an effort to limit vulnerabilities in this area, Graff said in the blog post. It is more difficult to identify the legitimate service providers and fraudsters since the scam doesn’t take place on our platform. “That’s why, in the coming months, we will roll out a verification program to ensure that only legitimate providers of third-party tech support can use our platform to reach consumers.”
Graff also acknowledged that the new system Google is introducing will not completely deter fraudsters from acting, but will cut down the frequency by making it a lot more difficult for them.
However, he added that Google is seriously researching ways to completely block fraudsters so as “to keep the online advertising ecosystem a safe place for everyone.”
How Tech support scams are performed
Tech support scam is of various kinds, but they all require the victim to call the number displayed on the ads. Under the guise of finding the issue with the victim’s machine, the scammer could ask for an access to control the PC remotely, through which they could upload damaging virus which they will also discover. The scammer would then persuade the victim to purchase a support package that’s completely irrelevant, mostly at an inflated price.
While most Google ads are legitimate, you are advised to contact your bank to block payments if you think you’ve been targeted. Uninstall any software installed as part of the scam and run a virus scan on your computer.