By Richard Metting
This is a computer age where we rely on the internet for looking up all kinds of information. Because we don’t have the billions of website domain names memorized Google has become a very popular way of navigating to the websites that have the information we are looking for. It almost has become like a tour guide of the interwebs. Just as we would trust a tour guide in a foreign country to lead us to safe places, we also trust Google and other search engines to provide safe guidance. Unfortunately even a company as trustworthy as Google cannot guarantee you from being tricked into a scam that can lead you directly into a dangerous jungle of malicious websites.
Recently it seems that I am getting many calls from my customers concerned because they just got off the phone with what appeared to be a reputable company such as Dell, AOL, Verizon ect, but when the representative got onto the computer remotely, they claimed that there were hundreds of errors on the computer. Often they are vague about what these errors are and how they are affecting the computer. Then the representative (usually speaking in a thick Indian accent) asks for a large sum of money to resolve the issues.
Once the representative starts making financial demands, most people are able to sense that there is something wrong with this scenario and hang up the phone as quickly as possible. This is the point where I typically get a phone call from my customer to solidify their gut feelings. After receiving the frantic phone call, I explain to my customers that everything is ok with the computer and that there are not hundreds of errors on it.
The question that I tend to receive afterwards is:
Why would a reputable company lie and tell you that you have things wrong with your computer when there isn’t?
The answer is simple:
You weren’t talking to the company you intended to call in the first place!
You may wonder: “How this is possible?” Let me explain.
I am going to show a Google search result looking for the computer manufacture Dell’s telephone number.
Take note of the first two websites that I have boxed off in RED. If you look at these results carefully you might notice that these are both advertisements. Both of these companies I have personally observed asking for hundreds of dollars to repair a computer that is not broken. The way we can easily distinguish that these links are advertisements is by the small yellow box next to the website that says Ad.
Sometimes these advertisements will actually be the website that we are attempting to visit but often they are unrelated companies that have paid high sums of money to be first on the list on the Google Search. We can easily identify that the websites are for a company called Iyogi and GuruAide by looking at the URL’s.
Once we look beyond these advertisements, you can see the rest of the websites on the page are all linking directly to Dell’s website.
Chances are that the link you actually need is the first one listed after the advertisements which is indicated by the green box in my illustration.
This is not limited to just the companies listed above. You might find yourself seeing similar results when searching for contact information for many other companies. The bottom line is that when you get a phone number from Google, be leary that you are actually speaking with the company you are intending to talk to.
Yes Google’s search results can be misleading sometimes but this does not mean that Google is your enemy. Google’s advertising system is all automated and auctions off who will get the advertising space for certain keywords to the highest bidder. They have no way of knowing that someone is going to attempt to rip you off anymore then someone who owns a billboard on any major highway would know.
So in conclusion the search engines can be a dangerously diceptive and you should always make sure that you are cafeful about who you are calling because you can easily be connected to companies that might not have your best interest in mind.