Online shoppers warned to take care when using search engines

Online shoppers have been warned to take care

Online shoppers have been warned to take care

First published in News
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PEOPLE in North Yorkshire who shop online are being warned to take care when using search engines.

The National Trading Standards eCrime Team (NTSeCT), based in Northallerton and York, was expanded last year to tackle the scammers who cost people in the UK £3.5 billion a year, and recently brought the first successful prosecution of a UK defendant involved in an international computer scam.

This month, the team has warned users of Google to remember that adverts appear above the search results, and can leave users paying more for goods, or allowing malware or viruses onto their computers.

Mike Andrews, who leads the team, said most people automatically assume that the top item on a list is the most appropriate, while it could actually be an advertisement.

He said: "Our best guess is it costs thousands to buy the adverts, but it’s extremely lucrative for the scammers. Research suggests 43 per cent to 45 per cent of consumers cannot tell the difference between an advert and the organic search.

"Natural conditioning is that the top is best or the top three is best. It's a combination of people being in a hurry, taking as read the top one is best, and not taking the time to look for a disclaimer because in their own mind they have already decided they are using this site because they’ve already clicked on it."

Mike said some fake adverts on search engines had already been taken down, and reassured users that many adverts were genuine, but urged computer users to take a little extra time when shopping or looking for services online, and make sure they are not being misled.

He said: "It’s not gullibility. It’s a matter of getting on and getting something done quickly. Medics, young executives and lawyers get taken in, so it’s not a matter of intelligence. The message is be aware of clicking and blindly accepting that the top link in the search results. It’s misusing legitimate marketing techniques.

"We’re not saying all adverts online are bad because they do a lot of good because they are tailored to what you’re searching pattern is but some people will blindly click on them and end up buying from somewhere they never would have and not getting a good experience."

Comments (11)

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8:11am Mon 4 Aug 14

Have to make a comment says...

I always thought (wrongly I now realise) that if you followed a link at the top it was likely to be a legitimate site since Google have taken payment for it to be placed there. Google need to take some responsibility for the advertisers surely
I always thought (wrongly I now realise) that if you followed a link at the top it was likely to be a legitimate site since Google have taken payment for it to be placed there. Google need to take some responsibility for the advertisers surely Have to make a comment
  • Score: 19

9:02am Mon 4 Aug 14

jintysbhoys says...

Have to make a comment wrote:
I always thought (wrongly I now realise) that if you followed a link at the top it was likely to be a legitimate site since Google have taken payment for it to be placed there. Google need to take some responsibility for the advertisers surely
I used a Google search engine for flights to Rhodes, and like the reader thought the same, how wrong was I a supposed travel company came up first eDreams, should have looked on trip advisor, but trusted the google search as they came up first, worst holiday company in the world!!, promising flights they don't deliver and taking the money first to boot, thanks Google i'm now £500 poorer thanks to the search engine, will know better next time..stop letting dodgy companies buy their way to the top of the list!!
[quote][p][bold]Have to make a comment[/bold] wrote: I always thought (wrongly I now realise) that if you followed a link at the top it was likely to be a legitimate site since Google have taken payment for it to be placed there. Google need to take some responsibility for the advertisers surely[/p][/quote]I used a Google search engine for flights to Rhodes, and like the reader thought the same, how wrong was I a supposed travel company came up first eDreams, should have looked on trip advisor, but trusted the google search as they came up first, worst holiday company in the world!!, promising flights they don't deliver and taking the money first to boot, thanks Google i'm now £500 poorer thanks to the search engine, will know better next time..stop letting dodgy companies buy their way to the top of the list!! jintysbhoys
  • Score: 1

9:02am Mon 4 Aug 14

Mr Anderson says...

Same goes for Facebook ads. I bought some Ugg boots through a Facebook ad that turned out to be fake.
Same goes for Facebook ads. I bought some Ugg boots through a Facebook ad that turned out to be fake. Mr Anderson
  • Score: -3

9:39am Mon 4 Aug 14

smudge2 says...

Mr Anderson wrote:
Same goes for Facebook ads. I bought some Ugg boots through a Facebook ad that turned out to be fake.
Now there's a surprise. !!!!
[quote][p][bold]Mr Anderson[/bold] wrote: Same goes for Facebook ads. I bought some Ugg boots through a Facebook ad that turned out to be fake.[/p][/quote]Now there's a surprise. !!!! smudge2
  • Score: 20

10:42am Mon 4 Aug 14

maybejustmaybe says...

Use an adblocker. If you use a proper browser such as chrome or firefox they are a free add on/extension. You then wont see the ads, also works on this site!
Use an adblocker. If you use a proper browser such as chrome or firefox they are a free add on/extension. You then wont see the ads, also works on this site! maybejustmaybe
  • Score: 17

10:59am Mon 4 Aug 14

York1900 says...

Well when use search engines you can not take it as read that the top of the list is the best as because the page ranking is determined by number of hits a site gets and the dodgy sites sometimes have people just log on to the site to keep the site at top of search engines

You need to use the same thinking as when you shopping in shops as scammers know that people who shop on line are shopping on line to save time and money and logic goes out of the window if the site is rank at the top of the page

same as reviews on web sites these can be rigged by these companies to make people think that they are getting the best deal

You need to do the same sort of research as if you were buying in a shop in town and see what independent review sites say about the company and the product
Well when use search engines you can not take it as read that the top of the list is the best as because the page ranking is determined by number of hits a site gets and the dodgy sites sometimes have people just log on to the site to keep the site at top of search engines You need to use the same thinking as when you shopping in shops as scammers know that people who shop on line are shopping on line to save time and money and logic goes out of the window if the site is rank at the top of the page same as reviews on web sites these can be rigged by these companies to make people think that they are getting the best deal You need to do the same sort of research as if you were buying in a shop in town and see what independent review sites say about the company and the product York1900
  • Score: 10

10:59am Mon 4 Aug 14

NoNewsIsGoodNews says...

maybejustmaybe wrote:
Use an adblocker. If you use a proper browser such as chrome or firefox they are a free add on/extension. You then wont see the ads, also works on this site!
My thoughts exactly.
I use Firefox and Adblock Plus and I don't get any advertisements at all now.
[quote][p][bold]maybejustmaybe[/bold] wrote: Use an adblocker. If you use a proper browser such as chrome or firefox they are a free add on/extension. You then wont see the ads, also works on this site![/p][/quote]My thoughts exactly. I use Firefox and Adblock Plus and I don't get any advertisements at all now. NoNewsIsGoodNews
  • Score: 11

12:29pm Mon 4 Aug 14

Stevie D says...

PEOPLE in North Yorkshire who shop online are being warned to take care when using search engines.

Why are only people in North Yorkshire being warned ... do we not care about the rest of the country, are they smarter and have figured it out for themselves, or has Google found a way to specifically target the folk of this fair county alone?
Have to make a comment wrote:
I always thought (wrongly I now realise) that if you followed a link at the top it was likely to be a legitimate site since Google have taken payment for it to be placed there. Google need to take some responsibility for the advertisers surely

Any adverts or paid listings are marked as adverts – a small yellow box that says "Ad" seems to be the current method. If a site isn't marked as an advert then it has got into the listings on its own merits – but that doesn't mean that Google has verified or checked it. They have a complicated automated system for determining which sites are relevant and reputable, but sometimes sneaky companies manage to beat the algorithm for a short period of time and their sites appear higher in the listings than they deserve to be. Google doesn't as a matter of course check whether a site is legitimate or not, although they may investigate if people make allegations about the legitimacy of a site.

Caveat emptor – buyer beware!
[quote]PEOPLE in North Yorkshire who shop online are being warned to take care when using search engines.[/quote] Why are only people in North Yorkshire being warned ... do we not care about the rest of the country, are they smarter and have figured it out for themselves, or has Google found a way to specifically target the folk of this fair county alone? [quote][bold] Have to make a comment[/bold] wrote: I always thought (wrongly I now realise) that if you followed a link at the top it was likely to be a legitimate site since Google have taken payment for it to be placed there. Google need to take some responsibility for the advertisers surely[/quote] Any adverts or paid listings are marked as adverts – a small yellow box that says "Ad" seems to be the current method. If a site isn't marked as an advert then it has got into the listings on its own merits – but that doesn't mean that Google has verified or checked it. They have a complicated automated system for determining which sites are relevant and reputable, but sometimes sneaky companies manage to beat the algorithm for a short period of time and their sites appear higher in the listings than they deserve to be. Google doesn't as a matter of course check whether a site is legitimate or not, although they may investigate if people make allegations about the legitimacy of a site. Caveat emptor – buyer beware! Stevie D
  • Score: 7

4:41pm Mon 4 Aug 14

janice gray says...

I also got "mugged" by EDreams , fortunately I'd paid through PayPal and was eventually re-funded.
I also got "mugged" by EDreams , fortunately I'd paid through PayPal and was eventually re-funded. janice gray
  • Score: 4

5:11pm Mon 4 Aug 14

KevinWard59 says...

Mike Andrews from National Trading Standards eCrime Team (NTSeCT) is totally correct - you will notice if you scroll down past the first 5 or 6 results there is a slightly deeper gap and then the results show the "real mccoy".

This is especially the case if your searching Windows error codes and related articles or for software.

The "Free" versions offered in the top 6 by TomDickHarrySoftware
Downloads dot com fill your computer full of ad fischers. Firstly ignore all the results which offer a free downloader or viewer for all types of files. Your PC browser already has the capability to download - you don't need that junk and its all full of what are termed "PUPS" (Potentially Unwanted Software) which reports and configures all those Pop-up adverts for similar products to those you've been looking at or purchasing - just in case you want to buy another ten.

Only download from genuine 1st party software suppliers or your PC/Laptop manufacturers support site. Choosing "One of the above" and your asking for issues and a slow infected computer. Every site you go to downloads a cookie "In case you call back" that's why air fares go up when you check back .

Take care installing too, Never select regular/standard/rec
ommended installation - that's accepting all the additional browser "Add-ons & Plug-ins" - a sure way to slow your PC and tell all the marketeers what you like to buy. Choose "Custom" or "Advanced" and work slowly double checking before you accept or click yes or install:- the first 4 or 5 will be sponsor software that they're trying to trick the unwary into accepting to install. Check carefully declining/clicking no/refuse all offerings that are not what you downloaded. If you decline what you wanted, you can always start again:- better saying no first time than mistakenly installing a PUP and then having to find and remove it because it may hide under a not too obvious or seemingly necessary and important name.

Remember that everything you click leaves a small "Junk file" in numbers and letters that only the computer understands which can be analysed by such as Mike and his team to show where you went, what file you opened, what you typed, which keys you pressed and what you did with it etc.

Computers and the internet can be dangerous places with a machine full of PUPS and stronger Ad-ware and spy-ware so get a maintenance contract and have your PC regularly serviced (to remove the junk, cookies, PUPS etc.

An early Christmas present to you all.
Mike Andrews from National Trading Standards eCrime Team (NTSeCT) is totally correct - you will notice if you scroll down past the first 5 or 6 results there is a slightly deeper gap and then the results show the "real mccoy". This is especially the case if your searching Windows error codes and related articles or for software. The "Free" versions offered in the top 6 by TomDickHarrySoftware Downloads dot com fill your computer full of ad fischers. Firstly ignore all the results which offer a free downloader or viewer for all types of files. Your PC browser already has the capability to download - you don't need that junk and its all full of what are termed "PUPS" (Potentially Unwanted Software) which reports and configures all those Pop-up adverts for similar products to those you've been looking at or purchasing - just in case you want to buy another ten. Only download from genuine 1st party software suppliers or your PC/Laptop manufacturers support site. Choosing "One of the above" and your asking for issues and a slow infected computer. Every site you go to downloads a cookie "In case you call back" that's why air fares go up when you check back [Source:- Martin Lewis's "Money Saving Expert dot com"]. Take care installing too, Never select regular/standard/rec ommended installation - that's accepting all the additional browser "Add-ons & Plug-ins" - a sure way to slow your PC and tell all the marketeers what you like to buy. Choose "Custom" or "Advanced" and work slowly double checking before you accept or click yes or install:- the first 4 or 5 will be sponsor software that they're trying to trick the unwary into accepting to install. Check carefully declining/clicking no/refuse all offerings that are not what you downloaded. If you decline what you wanted, you can always start again:- better saying no first time than mistakenly installing a PUP and then having to find and remove it because it may hide under a not too obvious or seemingly necessary and important name. Remember that everything you click leaves a small "Junk file" in numbers and letters that only the computer understands which can be analysed by such as Mike and his team to show where you went, what file you opened, what you typed, which keys you pressed and what you did with it etc. Computers and the internet can be dangerous places with a machine full of PUPS and stronger Ad-ware and spy-ware so get a maintenance contract and have your PC regularly serviced (to remove the junk, cookies, PUPS etc. An early Christmas present to you all. KevinWard59
  • Score: 5

8:37pm Mon 4 Aug 14

Pinza-C55 says...

KevinWard59 wrote:
Mike Andrews from National Trading Standards eCrime Team (NTSeCT) is totally correct - you will notice if you scroll down past the first 5 or 6 results there is a slightly deeper gap and then the results show the "real mccoy".

This is especially the case if your searching Windows error codes and related articles or for software.

The "Free" versions offered in the top 6 by TomDickHarrySoftware

Downloads dot com fill your computer full of ad fischers. Firstly ignore all the results which offer a free downloader or viewer for all types of files. Your PC browser already has the capability to download - you don't need that junk and its all full of what are termed "PUPS" (Potentially Unwanted Software) which reports and configures all those Pop-up adverts for similar products to those you've been looking at or purchasing - just in case you want to buy another ten.

Only download from genuine 1st party software suppliers or your PC/Laptop manufacturers support site. Choosing "One of the above" and your asking for issues and a slow infected computer. Every site you go to downloads a cookie "In case you call back" that's why air fares go up when you check back .

Take care installing too, Never select regular/standard/rec

ommended installation - that's accepting all the additional browser "Add-ons & Plug-ins" - a sure way to slow your PC and tell all the marketeers what you like to buy. Choose "Custom" or "Advanced" and work slowly double checking before you accept or click yes or install:- the first 4 or 5 will be sponsor software that they're trying to trick the unwary into accepting to install. Check carefully declining/clicking no/refuse all offerings that are not what you downloaded. If you decline what you wanted, you can always start again:- better saying no first time than mistakenly installing a PUP and then having to find and remove it because it may hide under a not too obvious or seemingly necessary and important name.

Remember that everything you click leaves a small "Junk file" in numbers and letters that only the computer understands which can be analysed by such as Mike and his team to show where you went, what file you opened, what you typed, which keys you pressed and what you did with it etc.

Computers and the internet can be dangerous places with a machine full of PUPS and stronger Ad-ware and spy-ware so get a maintenance contract and have your PC regularly serviced (to remove the junk, cookies, PUPS etc.

An early Christmas present to you all.
Excellent post. I bought the pay version of Malwarebytes which roots out most of this horrible stuff.
It's worth avoiding Google Images as this site is heavily infected with Malware.
[quote][p][bold]KevinWard59[/bold] wrote: Mike Andrews from National Trading Standards eCrime Team (NTSeCT) is totally correct - you will notice if you scroll down past the first 5 or 6 results there is a slightly deeper gap and then the results show the "real mccoy". This is especially the case if your searching Windows error codes and related articles or for software. The "Free" versions offered in the top 6 by TomDickHarrySoftware Downloads dot com fill your computer full of ad fischers. Firstly ignore all the results which offer a free downloader or viewer for all types of files. Your PC browser already has the capability to download - you don't need that junk and its all full of what are termed "PUPS" (Potentially Unwanted Software) which reports and configures all those Pop-up adverts for similar products to those you've been looking at or purchasing - just in case you want to buy another ten. Only download from genuine 1st party software suppliers or your PC/Laptop manufacturers support site. Choosing "One of the above" and your asking for issues and a slow infected computer. Every site you go to downloads a cookie "In case you call back" that's why air fares go up when you check back [Source:- Martin Lewis's "Money Saving Expert dot com"]. Take care installing too, Never select regular/standard/rec ommended installation - that's accepting all the additional browser "Add-ons & Plug-ins" - a sure way to slow your PC and tell all the marketeers what you like to buy. Choose "Custom" or "Advanced" and work slowly double checking before you accept or click yes or install:- the first 4 or 5 will be sponsor software that they're trying to trick the unwary into accepting to install. Check carefully declining/clicking no/refuse all offerings that are not what you downloaded. If you decline what you wanted, you can always start again:- better saying no first time than mistakenly installing a PUP and then having to find and remove it because it may hide under a not too obvious or seemingly necessary and important name. Remember that everything you click leaves a small "Junk file" in numbers and letters that only the computer understands which can be analysed by such as Mike and his team to show where you went, what file you opened, what you typed, which keys you pressed and what you did with it etc. Computers and the internet can be dangerous places with a machine full of PUPS and stronger Ad-ware and spy-ware so get a maintenance contract and have your PC regularly serviced (to remove the junk, cookies, PUPS etc. An early Christmas present to you all.[/p][/quote]Excellent post. I bought the pay version of Malwarebytes which roots out most of this horrible stuff. It's worth avoiding Google Images as this site is heavily infected with Malware. Pinza-C55
  • Score: 3

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