Major US and UK Brands Hit by Identity Theft Via Google Ads: An Insightful Analysis
A startling 75% of premier brands in the US and UK have reportedly been targeted by identity thieves via Google Search Ads, leading to potential financial losses and damage to their reputations.
This unscrupulous practice harms businesses and customers alike, with consumers often falling prey to fraud, according to new information from search marketing security firm, Marcode.
The nefarious method works as follows: Scammers mimic authentic brand domains and ad copies, deliberately financing ad placements to appear when users search for specific brands.
Brands like the flight comparison company Skyscanner, often find themselves at the receiving end of this fraudulent scheme. With Google’s policy of displaying only one ad per domain, these counterfeit ads often edge out the actual brand’s ad, unknown to the impersonated business or the customer.
Unaware of these underhanded tactics, brands are often caught off guard as the scam usually remains undetected due to limitations in Google’s internal reporting tools. If customers get duped under a brand’s name, it could severely tarnish the brand’s image and hinder future purchases due to fear of deception. Brands heavily dependent on Google Ads for their marketing campaigns may experience a decline in their reach, affecting their ROI considerably.
A common form of these fraudulent practices is phishing scams, thrusting unsuspecting users onto a phony website via a series of invisible redirects without the user’s knowledge. Users are enticed to participate in a game promising attractive vouchers for the impersonated store, only to fall into the trap of entering personal information.
Affiliate hijacking, another widespread scam tops the chart with over 75% of the studied sites falling victim. The user unknowingly ends up on the actual brand’s website with an affiliate code attached generating unwarranted commission for the hijacker.
Renowned retail brands like Amazon, American Airlines, Lego, Pizza Hut, and Samsung were all found to be victims of identity fraud on Google Search Ads, as reported by the Marcode researchers. They discovered that out of the 120 names monitored, 90 had faced some sort of hijacking.
Google spokesperson reassured that the tech giant was committed to creating and enforcing policies that protect advertisers from such threats, including brand impersonation, phishing attempts, and trademark infringement.
For more insights on data protection and privacy, read our useful guide on detecting and addressing user data leaks.
Ready to boost your local business? Visit us here for more information.