TrustInAds.org, a new organization created by AOL, Facebook, Google, and Twitter to protect consumers from malicious online ads, has issued a report that shows how the online advertising platforms are combating tech support ad scams and gives tips on how to avoid them.
Through this organization, the companies say they will bring awareness to consumers about this and other online ad scams and deceptive activities by publishing Bad Ads Trend Alerts. They will also collaborate to identify trends and share knowledge with policymakers and consumer advocates.
For example, Facebook and Google recently discovered that “bad actors” were using ads on their platforms to lure consumers to websites where they were encouraged to call 1-800 numbers for tech support. The scam advertisers often presented themselves as official representatives of companies and had users download software to resolve their issues, which contained viruses, spyware, adware, keystroke loggers, and other harmful applications.
Thanks to its review process, TrustInAds.org says Google and Facebook removed more than 4,000 suspicious advertiser accounts linked to more than 2,400 tech support websites.
While Twitter did not find this type of tech support scam itself, the platform says it believes in a “proactive approach to addressing these issues and providing its insight and expertise to help identify bad ads and keep them off all advertising platforms,” TrustInAds.org says in a press release.
The TrustInAds.org website also has a dedicated page with information on how consumers can easily report suspicious ads on AOL, Facebook, Google, and Twitter.
“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,” said TrustInAds.org executive director Rob Haralson in a statement. “It’s important for everyone – people, marketers, platforms, and policymakers – that the ecosystem thrives.”
TrustInAds.org’s tips for consumers include: Have a clear understanding of which provider is giving tech support, never give a password and be suspicious when asked to download software, keep operating systems and antivirus software up to date, and report suspicious ads or scam victimization.