Google is trying to stop scammers who advertise fake technical support on its platform.
According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, citing an investigation by the paper that found criminals were using Google’s ad platform to buy search ads that purported to be authorized service agents for companies including Apple, Google has moved to take action. According to the Wall Street Journal, its research found that a recent Google search result for Apple tech support yielded a link to so-called experts who were really scammers. A Google spokeswoman told the paper the company was removing bad ads and did so with 100 such ads per second last year for violating company policies.
Late last week Google took it a step further, announcing more of a crackdown on the fake tech support ads. “We’ve seen a rise in misleading ad experiences stemming from third-party technical support providers and have decided to begin restricting ads in this category globally,” Google’s global product policy director David Graff said on the company’s blog, reported the Wall Street Journal. Graff said the company was gearing up to roll out a verification program so that it can ensure only legitimate tech support companies can advertise on the platform.
Google said it would start adding the restrictions immediately but that it could take a few weeks before the full rules are in effect in all the languages around the globe. The verification process to let vendors back on to the platform is still being worked out, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the new policy.
The report noted the tech scams have stolen billions of dollars from victims in the U.S. alone. Scams involving remote technical support are particularly effective, noted the report. And that type of scam is growing with Microsoft receiving about 12,000 complaints about tech support scams each month, marking a 24 percent increase from last year. Meanwhile, the Federal Trade Commission had 45,000 complaints about online tech support scams in 2016, noted the paper.