We all turn to the internet nowadays whenever we want to buy a new product. It can be to research about the product, learn about its functionality or to see the pricing. What if you want a new iPhone and search on Google for it and suddenly a notification pops-up showing you a crazy good deal about a cheap iPhone.

Now you have to check it out, right? But once you click on the ad, it starts downloading something in the background and you don’t even know what is it. This is how hackers and scammers use clickbait and switch scams to install malicious software in your devices and then use it to take control of your systems.

What exactly is bait and switch scam?

In these kinds of scams, the advertiser shows you ads that are designed to lure you into clicking on them. They might show you a deal that is too good to be true and normally can’t be found anywhere else. They especially target the prospects that are already looking for a related product. Once the prospect arrives at their physical store, web page or other online places, they show a very different deal and force you to buy that deal. 

Are bait and switching scams wholly illegal?

Yes, by all means, showing something to a person without their consent and then forcing them to buy something else is wholly illegal and is considered a fraud. However, there are still some boundaries to it which can be used by the advertisers to take advantage of the situation. They can show you another deal while the original deal is still available, In that case, it will not be illegal.

Harmful bait & switch scam

Many hackers, scammers, and cybercriminals use bait and switch to lure you into downloading some very expensive software, movie or a game for free. This, in fact, won’t be the actual software you wanted, or even if it is, it will be modified to contain malicious packets of data that will be installed in your devices and can damage or steal your data. 

Many times, hackers create a fake lookalike web page and run ads to redirect you to that page. This page is injected with lots of malicious data and once you open that page, it starts harming your device.

How do you prevent clickbait and switch scam?

  • Don’t fall for a deal that seems too good. An iPhone can never be sold for $3, so you should realize that hackers are at play here. 
  • You should use Ad-blockers, anti-viruses and other malware preventing software tools to prevent the ads.
  • If the ad is full of typos, (or even some) don’t click on it. An authentic company never rolls out an ad without checking it 100 times.
  • Don’t experiment too much with new websites.
  • Use a VPN to protect the data on your device.

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