For reasons I can hardly fathom, there are people in this world who will gladly exploit other individuals for their own gains, with no regards whatsoever if they’re causing grief. These crooks over the years have concocted numerous schemes and tricks to take advantage of the unsuspecting citizenry – bouts of creativity that should have been better used for something less nefarious. The most recent fraud that these crafty criminals have cooked up involves taking advantage of people’s innate clumsiness and popular URLs.

Typosquatting, or URL hijacking, as defined by Technopedia is a “technique used by a cybersquatter to attract website traffic by redirecting common typos of popular search terms or major websites to their own sites.” It’s also defined as “the procurement of a misspelled version of a popular domain name for the purpose of attracting visitors who make typographical errors when entering web addresses.” For example, domains like Google are intentionally misspelled into “google.om”. If you’re not very observant and you’re prone to typos, you might find yourself stuck in a rather sticky situation.

The result of being caught up in this type of identity theft scam entirely depends on the owner’s motives, however, most of the time, it’s done for malicious purposes. It can be used to install malicious software on an unsuspecting victim’s computer and steal personal information like bank account numbers and credit cards. Some (dishonest) entrepreneurs can also use typosquatting to make money through the use of advertising links that direct web visitors away from competitors and straight to their own business websites.

According to the study conducted by Paul Ducklin, a computer security expert, regarding the effect of Typosquatting on six popular domains (Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft, Apple, and Sophos), 15% of the activities involve advertising and hosting, and 3% are dedicated to cybercrime. Though the statistics are not as dire as initially thought (384 URLs out of 14,495 URLs) in terms of typosquatting related cybercrime, the situation is still far from being harmless. If you’re not careful, you may unwittingly end up as a victim of hacking, phishing, online fraud or spamming.

More so, the United States hosts the most number of typosquatting URLs at a whopping 63.8%, followed by Germany and China with 4.6% and 4.1% respectively. With the mile a minute development of copyright and trade industry, there has been a significant increase in cybersquatting incidents and even with technological precautions, it’s still inevitable to end up accessing a typosquat website due to the overwhelmingly large one-character variants popular domain. However, this doesn’t mean that you should take precautions when browsing the web. When typing in a web address, pay close attention to what you’re typing and make use of safe search tools. If you’ve still ended up with a sketchy website, don’t even attempt to click on advertisements, emails, chats, and other links that redirect you to another page. Religiously checking your financial accounts and taking Credit Counseling to spot anything suspicious is also beneficial. If you have a domain, make sure that you register your trademark so that it gets legally protected by the state. You should also consider procuring common variants of your domain name.

In this age where cybercrime runs rampant, you should always be aware and vigilant when it comes to disclosing information in order to stay away from unpleasant situations. Should you or someone you love find yourselves the victim of Identity Theft, contact Credit Advisors Council today to get the help you need.

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