Might Your Search Yield a Scam?
Do you ever look for products or information online by typing a word into a search engine? I do too. By now, I bet we both know there’s no guarantee that the first result will be the best one. Anyone can set up shop online with almost any name. You may get links to pages that are out-of-date, off-topic, or stocked with low-quality products. Here are some tips for your next search.
Double check each result. Look at the end of the web address. Does it say dot-com, dot-gov, dot-org or something else? A commercial site (.com) and a government site (.gov) offer very different content. Does the address include words that are slightly misspelled versions of brand names or familiar words? Those aren’t mistakes; they’re scam sites set up to draw your attention.
Use a specialty search engine or focus only on certain kinds of sites. That narrows your search and makes it more likely you’ll get useful responses. For example, child-oriented search engines perform limited searches or screen results to show only sites and material that are appropriate for kids. If you want health information, the FTC suggests you start with some trusted government sources.
If you find an interesting result and want to know more, type the company or product name, or even the website, into a search engine together with the words “review,” “complaint,” or “scam.” See what comes up. Always use more than one source of information.