Behind the undeniable search power of the giant that is Google, there can be unsuspected dangers. In this article, we will highlight the abusive use of brand reputation by unscrupulous advertisers to lure users to their sites, sometimes with fraudulent intentions. Despite the wealth of knowledge contained within the information paradise that is Google, we advise that you use caution to navigate smoothly.
Understanding the Difference Between Sponsored and Organic Results
After a Google search, the results list may seem huge, but it is divided into two distinct categories: sponsored content and organic content.
Sponsored content, often displayed at the top of the page or clearly marked as an advertisement, is generated by paying advertisers. Its position at the top of the list does not always guarantee its relevance. Infact, this is often where the most malicious ads are found.
On the other hand, organic content, presented naturally, is generated by Google's algorithm based on the relevance and quality of the content in relation to the user's search query.
This crucial difference between sponsored and organic content emphasises the importance of not relying solely on the position of a search result but evaluating the credibility and relevance of the proposed content before clicking.
Checking the Advertiser's Identity
Before clicking on an ad, make sure it comes from a legitimate source. The advertiser's name is usually located above the ad along with the destination URL. If the advertiser's name does not match the name of the company you searched for, it may be a malicious ad. Details such as reviews, online reputation, and information about the advertiser can also provide valuable clues.
It is, of course, essential to be extra vigilant if you are required to provide banking or confidential details unrelated to the purpose of your search.
Checking the URL Once on the Landing Page
The displayed ad's address (URL) may differ from the actual page's real address. This can be used dishonestly to deceive visitors by making the advertiser appear to be something they are not. Once you are redirected to a site from an ad, always check the URL to ensure it matches what you are looking for.
Use Direct Access When Possible
When downloading an application, making transactions, or performing another sensitive action, always use official sites by entering the URL directly into your browser or using official app stores rather than navigating from a search engine. This approach helps avoid the risks of scams or fraudulent downloads.
Vigilance remains the most effective defence against online scams. As PayByPhone is regularly targeted by malicious activities, we take this opportunity to remind you that downloading PayByPhone is and will always be free (with no subscription!). Our only official website is accessible via https://www2.paybyphone.com/, and our app is available for free download on the Google Play Store for Android, and the Apple App Store for iOS.