Just Because it’s on Google Doesn’t Mean it’s Legit

Debt Ads on Google
Sample Ads for Debt Consolidation on Google

Consumers have way too much faith in what they read and hear online. The problem is that many people believe if it is written (or advertised) on the internet it must be true. We believe Wikipedia. And we believe all those ads on Google. And that’s the problem. Some of those ads are scams.

Lately, criminal organizations have found a new way to take advantage of the public. They place ads that prey on consumers who need help with their mortgages by promising debt consolidation and obligation reductions. When the consumers engage with these ads, they contact what they think is a legitimate organization. Instead, however, it’s a criminal collecting the person’s personal information and money without actually rendering any services.

Google just got in trouble once again for this and not policing their ads well enough. This is a tough challenge for Google. With millions of advertisers and billions of ads, how can it insure that all of its advertisers are ethical, or even just “not criminal”?

Consumers must educate themselves to research a business before they engage with it. Ironically, often the best way to research the business is also online – by Googling it. But you can also check to see if there are reviews about it, if there are complaints and you can do some basic detective work, such as whether the organization has a phone number, is based in the USA, has a mailing address (and not a PO box), and so on. One red flag is a web site with lots of grammar issues and no contact information.

Remember, you also “get what you pay for”. So if the deal seems too good to be true, it may in fact not be a deal at all. Go with trust, and learn to pay a premium for trust and quality and in the end you’ll be glad you did, as you will avoid being a victim as the result of trying to save a buck.

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