'Google Assistant' Brings New Psychic Dilemma for Customers
Can psychic adverts on ‘Google Assistant’ create security risks for customers? - Yes they can.
This psychic editorial is about the problems that search engine monopolies are causing Australian small businesses and consumers. Australian business owners are questioning how our government has allowed Google to have a search engine monopoly. Not only are consumers at risk, but the negative economic effect on Australian small business is contributing to the downturn of the Australian economy.
Why Is Australian Business Furious about the Lack of Government Regulation for Search Engines?
Google Assistant gives preference to Google ads at the top of the search results. This allows anyone from around the globe to bid for the top adverts without adequate screening of their business background.
Here's an example of what is occurring in the Mind Body Spirit sector and how this affects your security (the psychic customer). It also demonstrates why Google is not acting in the best interests of small business in Australia.
‘Google Assistant’ search for the question:
YOU: OK, Google: "Find me a Melbourne psychic"
GOOGLE ASSISTANT: (The top search result is for an Adwords entry titled):
Melbourne Psychics - The #1 Online Psychic Service
It all seems to be working okay. The device has scanned for the top listings and selected the first google advert. It even has the capability to phone the psychic, but something really concerning is taking place without you realizing.
The top result, which has the title Melbourne Psychics, is actually a company based in the UK. They are using Google AdWords to pretend to be an Australian company located in Melbourne.
Their (.com) UK site (when accessed through Google UK) is exactly the same as their Australian (com.au) site.
Now for the reality check:
When using AdWords, Psychics who bid the highest amount of money to be found in searches for "Australian Psychics", are promoted to the top of the search by Google Assistant. AdWords doesn’t care if they’re not actually located in Australia or Melbourne, or wherever they are pretending to be.
The psychic ads at the top of the search have not been screened by Google for authenticity. The results are based purely on the keywords the advertisers use and on how many dollars they are willing to bid per click to have their ads appear at the top of searches.
Overseas companies declaring they are located in Australia, are able to fool the buyer because they select keywords that make them appear to be local. They use locality-keywords like Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane etc. even though they are not in Australia. They may use other keyword phrases like:
Uplifting psychic readings with genuine psychics who care
Phone a psychic now to get answers to your questions
Phone psychics - Talk with real psychics to be enlightened
…even though these claims may not be true.
Even more serious: Google accepts no responsibility for who uses Google AdWords or for what they say in their ads. That is a fact. A case in the High Court of Australia between Google and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), concluded that Google did not have to accept liability for misleading and deceptive conduct in relation to its AdWords program. This means Google does not accept responsibility when advertisers make false claims in their sponsored ads.
So, it’s possible that you could innocently use Google Assistant to contact an Australian clairvoyant, actually using their name, only to find that it automatically selects the paying AdWords imposter.
This can apply to any legitimate Australian business. Can you see how this is misleading the paying customer and is a loss for Australian consumers?
What does that mean for you?
Unfortunately, as Google gives preference to its own advertisers on AdWords, anyone using Google Assistant could be targeted by scammers or criminals pretending to be Australian businesses.
Some of them are requesting you to fill in loyalty cards to return to their services.
We found a Google AdWords imposter using our business name to get our customers to fill in their details for free astrology reports.
Our business is one of millions dealing with similar issues because of slack search engine government policy in Australia. We have an influx of online scammers, but very little consumer protection in place to stop them from infiltrating Google Adwords.
European Response to Google Monopoly
"When users search for items to buy, sponsored results paid for by companies appear prominently at the top of the screen, pushing the competitions products well down the page." The European Commission has said this is illegal.
The European Commission has recently charged Google with breaking EU anti-trust laws and abusing its internet search monopoly. Google controls 95 percent of the market in Europe and is facing a $2.7 billion fine.
In Australia, every Google search fills the screen with sponsored ads, forcing consumers to scroll down before finding genuine companies who haven't paid google.
Unfortunately, the Australian government has missed an opportunity to step in and force the browser companies to bring in similar types of consumer protections as the European Union.
Google has denied that their paid placement ad is an advertisement, even though they strongly resemble commercial TV and movie paid product placement advertisements. "Google pitches its Assistant as a personal secretary, but do you expect your secretary to advertise to you and then take a fee for it?" Perhaps Google is trying to normalise advertising on its 'Google Home' product. In the future Google could introduce AdWords-style bidding for their 'Google Home' ‘partners’ advertising.
With voice only devices like 'Google Home' or 'Amazon Echo', you’ll need to be far more specific to ensure that you find a genuine business. Even with organic searches, there are plenty of fake businesses 'Google Home' could choose from.
With voice-only devices, there is no screen based list of search results for you to scroll through and begin your research for ‘who is the best psychic in Melbourne’. The device chooses a psychic for you, and it cannot gauge the authenticity of the psychic. This means your chances of communicating with genuine psychics are greatly reduced.
'Google Home' / Amazon Echo - Security Risks
Although the device doesn’t respond to you until you use the wake words, “Hey, Google”, 'Google Home' is ALWAYS listening to you. Therefore, a hacker can potentially always listen in to your private conversations at home.
Every one of our online devices is hackable - voice-only devices are no exception.
Google is Fallible
With rogue advertisers constantly attempting to trick customers using Google’s own technology, it's a false perception that 'Google Home' voice devices only find reputable businesses.
You really need to be on your guard using Google Assistant or 'Google Home' adverts when you phone a psychic. But you also need to be careful of clicking Google advertising sponsored sites. Tricksters are able to penetrate Google adverts because they place the highest bid. The Google Adwords vetting is not adequate.
These tricksters don't just single out independent psychics, they target multinational companies like Amazon to redirect customers to click their sites. Recently Zdnet found a rogue business (like the ones we described in the psychic category) pretending to be Amazon. That's real ballsy stuff, but it also demonstrates the consumer protections we have in place in Australia to stop Aussies falling for rogue adverts on the internet are not adequate.
Until they are, don't blindly trust your Google search for the #1 Australian Phone Psychics unless you’ve done your research.
Here's a technique you can use to avoid the rogue psychic adverts and to check if the top psychic ads in the sponsored section are not tricking you:
Research the psychic advert before clicking the link. Check if the business has a registered Australian Business Number (ABN).
Are they located in Australia? We've traced many psychic businesses that falsely declare they have a fixed address in Australia. They also have fake Australian domain websites.
Do they have 1300 or 1800 numbers being answered by foreign customer service staff?
Do you feel like your call is being redirected overseas? Is the line clear,
are you speaking to someone who has a strong accent etc.
Hint: Cheap psychic online phone reading scams are most likely to advertise in Google Adwords and to be found in the top search results. Some of these sites can be traced to criminals. Be extremely careful seeking out cheap psychics.
Do you recall contacting any Google Adword psychics and then having spam emails or SMS texts being sent to your address or cell phone? Do you recall having any strange financial transactions not long after filling in your details for loyalty or affiliate psychic websites. (You may have been dealing with a rogue advertiser).
You can use this step-by-step method to check any business listed online to find the rogue Google advert infiltrators.
When new technology is released, don't automatically rush to use the services until you do your research. Devices like 'Google Home' may have some positive features that are time savers, but technology also can bring more scammers and criminals directly into our homes via the devices.
We now have to be more consumer savvy. We have to understand the security risks of technology and not automatically believe that browser companies have our best interests at heart. If they’re allowing foreign AdWord bidders to pretend to be Australian businesses, that should be a wake up call for anyone trying to seek out genuine local businesses.