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Google, Facebook, Twitter and AOL launched a new campaign to help protect consumers from deceptive online ads with a report detailing the dangers of online tech support scams.

The Internet companies launched TrustInAds.org Thursday, a campaign designed to raise consumer awareness of emerging online advertising scams and allow companies to share information about deceptive ad trends.

Most ads on sites like Google and Facebook are legitimate and safe and coming from legitimate advertisers, said Rob Haralson, the group’s executive director. “However, there are some very sophisticated bad actors out there trying to game the system. This is something companies deal with on a very regular basis,” he said.

The organization plans to release reports on new online ad scams along with information for consumers about how to protect themselves, he said.

The group’s first report focused on fraudulent online tech support schemes. Google and Facebook employees found that scammers were placing display ads that lured consumers into calling 1-800 numbers for tech support and convincing them to download software that allowed them to install keystroke loggers and other malicious software on their PCs.

While reviewing online tech support ads, the companies removed 4,000 suspicious accounts linking to 2,400 tech support websites, the report said.

This isn’t a new issue. The FTC issued a consumer bulletin warning about online tech support scams in January, but it has been an ongoing problem as scammers have tried new variations on old schemes in an effort to defraud consumers.



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