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Don't do it: the 6 worst phrases to Google

Navigating the online world can be a minefield of scams and fraudulent schemes waiting to ensnare unsuspecting users.

One of the most common entry points for these scams is through seemingly innocuous Google searches.

Trevor Cooke, Privacy Expert at EarthWeb, explains six specific phrases that can inadvertently lead you to malicious websites, phishing attempts, and potential financial or personal harm.

Customer Service Numbers

Searching for customer service numbers may seem harmless, but it can lead you to fraudulent websites posing as legitimate companies. These sites often display fake phone numbers, luring unsuspecting individuals into calling and potentially revealing sensitive information or falling prey to scams.

Trevor’s Tip: Always visit the official website of the company you're seeking assistance from and locate their customer service contact information directly from there.

Easy Loans

The promise of easy loans can be tempting, but it's a common tactic used by predatory lenders and scammers. These search results may lead you to websites offering loans with exorbitant interest rates, hidden fees, or even outright fraud.

Trevor’s Tip: Thoroughly research reputable lenders and compare interest rates and terms before applying for any loan. Be very cautious when you get offers from online sources that may sound too good to be true.

Quick Money-Making Schemes

Get-rich-quick ploys are almost a 100-percent way to lose your hard-earned money, not make it. Searching for these phrases can expose you to pyramid schemes, multi-level marketing scams, or even illegal activities that could land you in legal trouble.

Trevor’s Tip: Tip: Legitimate opportunities for earning money typically require hard work and dedication. Be skeptical of any promises of easy, effortless wealth.

High-Paying Remote Jobs

While remote work opportunities do exist, searching for "high-paying remote jobs" can lead you to job scams or fraudulent websites. These sites may ask for upfront fees, personal information, or even engage in identity theft.

Trevor’s Tip: Stick to reputable job boards and company websites when searching for remote work opportunities. Never pay for a job application or provide sensitive information until you've verified the legitimacy of the employer.

Free Credit Report

While you are entitled to a free annual credit report from the major credit bureaus, searching for "free credit report" can lead you to websites that attempt to trick you into signing up for paid services or revealing personal information.

Trevor’s Tip: Visit the official website of the major credit bureaus (such as Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion) to obtain your free annual credit report safely.

Tech Support Scam

Searching for tech support can inadvertently lead you to scammers posing as legitimate tech companies. These scammers may attempt to gain remote access to your device, install malware, or trick you into paying for unnecessary services.

Trevor’s Tip: Always contact tech support directly through the official channels provided by the manufacturer or service provider. Never provide remote access to your device unless you've initiated the request through verified channels.

By exercising caution and being mindful of the potential risks associated with certain search phrases, you can protect yourself from falling victim to online scams and maintain a safer online experience.

‘Online scammers posing as legitimate organizations are counting on you using search terms that direct you to their sites,’ Trevor says. ‘Stay ahead of potential online predators and protect your personal information by paying attention to what you search.’


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