Microsoft Joins FTC to Combat Online Scams in Search Ads

Microsoft, the Federal Trade Commission, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and Western Union have teamed up to sponsor search ads at Bing.com designed to educate consumers about online fraud.

While styling the ads as ‘public service announcements’ in a joint release yesterday, the organizations’ effort involves various search terms related to phony offers that prey on the financially desperate, such as mortgage foreclosure rescue, promises of credit repair, and advance fee fraud (also known as lottery scams). A few keyword examples include “money transfer,” “foreclosure rescue,” and “fix my credit.”

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Viewers who click these ads are taken to a landing page with information about the kind of scam that was initially searched for, how to avoid the scam, and how to report a potential fraudster behind it. Some of the landing pages are being hosted by the Microsoft, while others appear on the FTC site.

For Microsoft, the search PSAs come on the heels of another fraud awareness initiative in which the company provided information about online scams in Windows Live.

According to the Consumer Sentinel Network, an online database of consumer complaints managed by the FTC, Americans filed more than 234,000 fraud grievances involving cases where they were contacted through the Internet.

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