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November 11, 2008

Watch Out For Bait & Switch Ads This Holiday (or SCADS)

I received an email to TechMamas from the Alliance Against BAIT & CLICK.  I had heard about Bait and Click before, but as always I had to check out the website first to see if they were for real. The site does have a valid URL - and some interested information. I also found an article about them in USA Today titled: Watch Out for "bait and click' ads.

Here is what the Alliance Against BAIT & CLICK explained a SCAD is:

  • Sponsored search results are advertisements that appear on search engines. Once you've run a query, they usually appear at the top and along the side of the page.
  • Deceptive sponsored search results (scam ads or scads) result when advertisers misrepresent themselves by using brand names they aren't affiliated with or authorized to use.
  • Scads lure consumers to their sites under false pretenses... bait & click!

Here is the information about How to Spot SCADS

I know there is added pressure this holiday season to find reasonable rates and fares - but beware of SCADS!  I get tons of emails every day, but this one I thought it was important enough to reprint on the blog. Click "continue reading" to see the email the alliance sent me with more information about SCADS.


While there are regulations that prohibit advertisements in newspapers or magazines from misleading shoppers with fake promotions, or leading them astray by listing the phone numbers or addresses of one store when they are looking for another, search engines like Google, Yahoo! and MSN don’t provide similar safeguards.  If you’ve ever ended up at the website of a travel aggregator or other hotel when you were looking for a specific property, you may have just been suckered by a "scad," or scam ad, lurking in sponsored search results and designed to lead visitors to sites unaffiliated with the brand entered in their search.

The risks of scads to online travel planners involve more than wasted time or frustration because scads often take unsuspecting internet users to unsecured sites - exposing them to fraud, viruses, and spyware.

Once an internet user has been tricked into clicking on the scad there can be legitimate dangers.  Scads have been shown to lead to twice as many sites possessing spyware or false marketing claims than unsponsored search results[1].  Consumers may also be charged for unwanted services (for example, several scads directed users to sites that charge for Firefox, a popular free web browser) or lure consumers to websites using outrageous and false claims.  A recent study also showed that over 75% of online travelers are confused by these scads.

The website of the Alliance Against Bait & Click (AABC), www.stopscads.org, focuses on arming travelers and other on-line consumers with the information and tools they need to avoid scads and safeguard their search.  AABC, a coalition of leading e-commerce marketers (including leading travel brands) and academic experts on search advertising, was formed to raise awareness of “bait & click”, the practice which lures consumers to potentially dangerous sites by using unauthorized and unaffiliated brand names in scads. 

In addition to providing tips and tools to teach online travelers about how to spot and avoid scads, the AABC website also provides avenues for action, including a petition to the FTC calling for tighter controls and contacting the search engines directly to report scads and press for tighter filters.


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Also, be careful of giving cell phones for gifts......can be quite pricey, over the long term

Very informative article about Scad.Very clearly mentioned about the ways we get fooled.The comment given is also good to follow.

Archana Shekar
keeping children safe online and offline-www.8falcons.com

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