Posted by Tim Cranton 
Associate General Counsel

Two weeks ago you heard from me about Microsoft’s enforcement efforts to curb malvertising; today I want to tell you about another approach we are taking to help protect consumers online.  

Along with using the legal system to help stop online criminals and fraud, my team does a lot of work with other groups at Microsoft and with public and private organizations around the world developing novel ways to actively prevent and disrupt online threats.  In the realm of Internet advertising, we’re not only working to promote the safety and integrity of the online ad platform, we’re using that ad platform to directly fight fraud more generally across the Web.

Microsoft – in conjunction with the Federal Trade Commission, the United States Postal Inspection Service and Western Union – today launched a series of online public service announcements within our Bing search engine to remind consumers to be alert for common online financial scams.  When consumers search using keywords that could expose them to credit repair, mortgage foreclosure, or fake lottery scams, the sponsored ad results in Bing will include educational information to help consumers protect themselves.

Here’s an example of how it will look:

 

The campaign builds on similar information we recently began providing in Windows Live, all with the idea that by providing education within the product experience, consumers will be reminded to be cautious at the very moment it’s most important.  Obviously, these particular issues are not the only scams or fraud consumers might come across online, but they certainly are some of the more prevalent scams out there.  We see this campaign as a positive step in an ongoing effort to help make the Internet a safer place. 

More information about today’s announcement can be found in the press release we issued today.   In the meantime, in addition to the information provided in the campaign, here are a few examples of common scammer tricks online that you should be aware of:

  • Generic introductions such as "Dear Customer," which indicate that the sender does not know you and should not be trusted.
  • Alarming or urgent statements that require you to respond immediately.
  • Requests for personal or financial information, such as user names or passwords, credit card or bank account numbers, social security numbers, date of birth, or other information that can be used to steal your identity.
  • Misspellings and grammatical errors, including Web addresses. The Web address might look very similar to the address of a legitimate business, with a minor change. For example, instead ofwww.microsoft.com, the scammer might use www.micrsoft.com. For more information, see Typos can cost you.
  • The text of the link in the e-mail message is different from the Web address that you are directed to when you click the link. You can determine the actual Web address for a link by hovering over the link without clicking it. The Web address appears in a text box above the link.
  • The "From" line in the original e-mail message to you shows a different Web address than the one that appears when you try to reply to the message.

We’ll continue to blog about our efforts to find and fight cybercrime in all its forms, so stay tuned for more. And, as always, please visit http://www.microsoft.com/protect for more information about staying safe online.