Dr. Diane Hamilton's Blog

What is Typosquatting? When Misspelling is an Expensive Mistake

 

Typosquatting occurs when a website is created to prey on people who may have inadvertently typed in the wrong web address.  An example would be arifrance instead of airfrance.  Typosquatting is also referred to as URL hijacking, cybersquatting or brandjacking.

The registration of misspelled domain names is illegal. Sites like Wikapedia and Twtter have been shut down and fined $156,000 each.  Mashable reported that sites like these “are popping up on the web to trick unsuspecting web users into clicking on fake ads that claim the user has won a prize. In the case of these two sites, to receive a prize, like an iPad, people were asked for their cellphone number. The site sent a text with a pin and more texts with survey questions. Each time a person responded to the survey questions via texts he or she was charged.”

Alexa reported that some of the web’s most popular sites were typosquatted. Scambusters.org lists some helpful tips to identify typosquatting.  Some of the main uses for these sites include:

  • Revenue Generating
  • Transfer of Virus and/or Malware
  • Phishing Scams
  • Advertising Pay Per Click Scam

USA Today reported that, “most typosquatting domains lead to a bot network, used to steal passwords and obtain personal information such as financial or banking records. Bot networks aren’t obvious and can involve millions of computers.”  According to TGdaily.com, it is a good idea to get into the habit of bookmarking your favorite sites to be sure that you are landing on the correct page. Sixty Four percent of the typosquatted sites are US-based.  Bendelman.org compiled a list of popular domains and their typosquatted sites to compare number of daily visitors.  Click here for that report.

Related Articles

 

 

Young Adults and Unique Identity Theft Issues

As more people have embraced technology, more opportunities for identity theft have been created.  PC Magazine author Larry Seltzer interviewed a cyber-crimes expert and found that there are some unique new ways that people have their identities stolen.  One of the things that may come as a surprise is that misconfigured peer-to-peer apps like Limewire can share information from your “My Documents” folder.

While you may be hip to the Nigerian scams, you may not be aware of skimmers on ATMs that can read your credit cards. Seltzer explains, “These are devices which install over the reader appear to be part of the machine. When you insert your card the skimmer reads it and records the information on it. They are often used in combination with surreptitious cameras to record the keys you press for the PIN. Skimmers are especially popular on gas pump, but they are also being used on the smaller point of sale readers found in stores.”

CNN Money reported that the top consumer complaint is identity fraud.  “The Federal Trade Commission counted 250,854 complaints about identity theft in 2010, according to a report issued Tuesday. That was 19% of the 1.3 million total complaints the agency received, putting it at the top of the consumer complaint list for the 11th year in a row. The most common form of identity theft was through fraudulent government documents. Credit card fraud garnered the second highest number of identity theft complaints, followed by phone and utilities fraud.”

Many young adults are going back to school soon.  College students may feel they are invincible and not notice identity theft as quickly as they should.  They are less likely to track their bank accounts and credit card statements.  Mainstreet.com reported, “Studies have shown that it takes 18- to 24-year-old Americans twice as long to find out they’ve been the victim of I.D. fraud – which is usually too late to do anything about it.”

Wells Fargo has come up with tips for college students to safeguard their financial information.

Fraudpreventionunit.org also has listed 10 Tips for an Identity-Theft Free 2011.

College Students Beware of Financial Aid Scams

In the recent article 15 Common Financial Aid Scams to Watch Out For, the author points out that college students may be a vulnerable demographic.  So-called financial aid experts may be out to take advantage of those looking for legitimate ways to finance their education.  Watch out for some of the following wording:  Unclaimed Money, Buy Now, Application Fees, Free Seminar, and Guaranteed.  For the complete list of scams with explanations, click here

Finaid.org claims, “Every year, several hundred thousand students and parents are defrauded by scholarship scams. The victims of these scams lose more than $100 million annually.”  There is some protection against fraud.  The Scholarship Fraud Protection Act of 2000 has increased the penalties for this fraud, including a maximum fine of $500,000 and jail time. 

If you feel you have been scammed, you have recourse.  According to the Finaid.org site, “The following organizations can help you determine whether an offer is legitimate. They will tell you whether they have received any complaints about the company, or whether it’s currently under investigation. They can also provide you with additional information or assistance.

National Fraud Information Center (NFIC)
In addition to providing helpful information, the NFIC will pass your complaints along to the appropriate authorities, such as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and your state’s Attorney General’s Office. The NFIC also maintains a toll-free hotline at 1-800-876-7060.”

Loss Leaders and the Old Bait and Switch

Go Daddy is in the news right now due to their consideration of global expansion. One of the ways they have become so successful is that they utilized a marketing technique where they offered a “loss leader”.  For those who have not taken a business course, this term may not be familiar.  The Business Dictionary defines a loss leader as a, “Good or service advertised and sold at below cost price. Its purpose is to bring in (lead) customers in the retail store (usually a supermarket) on the assumption that, once inside the store, the customers will be stimulated to buy full priced items as well.”

In Go Daddy’s case, they charged customers only around $10 to register domains while their competition charged closer to $35.  The Arizona Republic reported, “Then, they were able to capitalize on that by figuring out that domain names are a loss leader or a low margin item, and the way you really make money in the business is not with the domain names, but it’s with everything else that people buy with them.”

How does a loss leader differ from what people refer to as the “old bait and switch”?  First of all, the old bait and switch is considered fraud.  “Customers are “baited” by advertising for a product or service at a low price; then customers discover that the advertised good is not available and are “switched” to a costlier product.”  This is considered false advertising.

The use of loss leaders is a smart marketing move because it gives customers what they want at a lower price and allows companies to make more money on any additional items purchased.  The old bait and switch is illegal and causes a loss of business in the end through word of mouth about shady practices.    

Are Products Really as Green as They Claim? 95% of Them Apparently are Not

via sinsofgreenwashing.org

A survey from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) that was just released claims that 95% of those products that label themselves as green are misleading us.  Many are making claims without the proof to back them up. 

What is greenwashing?  If you combine whitewashing and green, it implies deception in the use of stating  a product is “green” when it may actually not be. This is a big topic that my students and I discuss in my marketing and ethics courses.

To see the study, Greenwashing Report 2010, click here.

In the report, they state the following:

  • Since 2009 the number of green products has gone up by 73%
  • They list 7 sins of greenwashing including:  showing no proof and being vague
  • Big box stores are the best providers of greener products
  • They examined over 5200 products
  • Greenwashing, although a problem, is actually declining

Some Notable Findings from the 2010 Report…

Are You Monitoring Your Online Reputation?

googled

Individuals and companies need to keep track of their online reputation. Do you know who is writing about you or your business? In my book, How to Reinvent Your Career, I mention the importance of having a clean reputation online in case employers do some research into your background. That is important for employees, but organizations must be sure their reputations are intact as well.

One bad comment out there can cause a lot of damage. It is not just negative comments that can hurt you. I have heard stories about companies who have had their information translated incorrectly in other countries which has led to their business looking badly. Don’t assume that something posted in another country can’t be translated back into English and hurt you here.

There are sites like PissedConsumer.com or Scam.com or other sites where your reputation can be ruined.

Sites like Facebook, Twitter, Yelp and others are very important to help spread your positive message. But be careful, because they can just as easily spread a negative one.

I like to use Google Alerts to set up searches to track who is posting things about me or my company. I think it can be very helpful and it is free. If your company is large though, it can be harder to track all of the keywords.

Another free option is Yext Rep. This site tracks mentions and reviews on sites like Twitter, Facebook, Yelp, Superpages and Foursquare.

If you are willing to pay a fee, Viralheat can monitor online conversations for a cost as little as $10/month.

Trackur is another option that many use. They offer powerful tools, you can be up, and running in 60 seconds with their service, monitoring keywords, tracking trends on the web, and discovering how influential your site really is. They have something called sentiment tracking that, “you can tag discovered items with a positive, negative, or neutral sentiment. Keep track of who’s saying positive things about you and who’s attacking your reputation.” The price for this starts as low as $18/month for their basic plan.

Visible Technologies is a good option if you need monitoring in different languages. They support 12 languages and allow employees to share reports. This comes at a cost of $500/month and up.

Radian6 allows you to manage your social media campaigns. It can be integrated with Salesforce.com, Webtrends and Omniture for $600/month and up.

Rumors of Famous People Being Alive or Dead: Is Ken Lay Still Alive?

I teach a lot of ethics courses where we talk about Enron and Ken Lay.  A student recently posted a link in class which I found to be interesting.  If you click on that link, there is a whole website dedicated to those who claim Ken Lay is actually alive. 

There are always rumors about people who have died still being alive.  Here is a list of some of those people:

Tupac

Andy Kaufman

Elvis Presley

Jim Morrison

Adolf Hitler

Michael Jackson

Last week there was a rumor going around that Bill Cosby died.  He is actually very much alive and well.  For a list of premature obituaries, click here.