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LIARS AND LOANS: HOW DECEPTIVE ADVERTISERS USE GOOGLE

LIARS AND LOANS: HOW DECEPTIVE ADVERTISERS USE GOOGLE

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Published by Consumer Watchdog
Analysis of Google's ongoing role as a facilitator of deceptive advertising in the so-called mortgage
modification industry.
Analysis of Google's ongoing role as a facilitator of deceptive advertising in the so-called mortgage
modification industry.

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Published by: Consumer Watchdog on Feb 10, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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02/10/2011

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LiarsandLoans:HowDeceptiveAdvertisersUseGoogle
2
TableofContents1.
 
ExecutiveSummary2.
 
GoogleProfitsFromFraudulentAdvertising3.
 
Google’sMarketinDeceptiveAdWords4.
 
TheDebtSettlementandCreditRepairIndustry5.
 
InDepth:We’refromtheGovernmentandWe’reHeretoHelp(NotReally)6.
 
InDepth:HarvestingYourPersonalFinancialData7.
 
InDepth:USMortgageBailout8.
 
LeadGeneratorsPoseasLoanModificationAdvertisers9.
 
Google’sResponsibility10.
 
ConclusionsandRecommendations
 
LiarsandLoans:HowDeceptiveAdvertisersUseGoogle
3
1.ExecutiveSummaryGooglehasbeenaprominentbeneficiaryofthenationalhomeloanandforeclosurecrisisofthepasttwoyears.Thegiantsearchenginecompanyhasprofitedbyacceptingdeceptiveadvertisingfromfraudulentoperatorswhofalselypromiseunwaryconsumersthattheycansolvetheirmortgageandcreditproblems.Fraudiswidespreadinthemortgagemodificationindustry,accordingtotheFederalTradeCommissionandinvestigationsbytheattorneysgeneralofNewYorkandotherstates.YetmanyofthesecompaniespaythousandsofdollarsforprimeadvertisingspaceonGooglesearches.WhileGooglehasapolicyprohibitingdeceptiveadvertising,thathasnotkeptGooglefromacceptingmisleadingads.Indeed,Googlehasbecomeoneofthenation’slargestoutletsfordeceptiveadvertising.Sofar,GoogleandothersearchenginesaregettingapassfromtheFTC,whichhasoptednottouseitslegalauthoritytoseekinjunctionsagainstsearchproviderswhorundeceptiveads.Instead,theagencyhasadoptedawhack‐a‐molestrategyofpursuingscurrilousforeclosureandcreditrelieffirmsonanindividualbasis.Asdetailedintheconclusionsandrecommendationsinthisreport,theFTCneedstoadoptamoreeffectiveapproachtargetingGoogleandothersearchenginesthatsupplytheoxygentothesedeplorablefly‐by‐nightoutfits.InadetailedreviewofGoogle’sadvertisingpractices,ConsumerWatchdogfoundthatGoogletypicallydropsquestionableadvertisersonlyafterthesecompaniesaresuedbyfederalregulators.Eventhen,Googleallowsothercompaniestocontinuemakingsimilardeceptiveclaimsintheiradvertising.Thehomeloanmodificationbusinessisanoffshootofthecreditrepairindustry,whichalsopreysonconsumersfacingfinancialdifficulty.Federalandstateregulatorshavefoundthatthecreditrepairindustryalsoisriddledwith

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