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Microsoft to Bing users: No more shady third-party ads for tech support, password recovery

Both Microsoft and Google have tightened their respective advertising policies to stamp out the promotion of services that harm consumers.

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Bing says no to third-party tech support and password-reset ads, because they're mostly scams.

Image: Microsoft

Microsoft has updated its Bing Ads global ad policy to ban all search ads for third-party online technical support services, because so many of them are scams.

The new policy should help Microsoft's web search engine shut off one avenue for scammers to reach potential victims.

The Federal Trade Commission has cracked down on telemarketing-based tech support scams in recent years and Microsoft has even sued US firms that use its name to sell bogus security services to the elderly.

But as Search Engine Land noted in 2014, Bing appeared to be more lax than Google about the ads it allowed to appear when Bing users searched for tech support.

Search terms such as 'Google support', 'Apple support', 'Microsoft outlook login support', and 'Facebook password recover' returned Bing ads for multiple third-party tech support services.

The policy update from Bing Ads should put a stop to that situation by preventing any firm from advertising a tech support service for products it does not own.

"Bing Ads disallows the promotion of third-party online technical support services to consumers because of serious quality issues that can impact end user safety," Bing Ads demand quality project manager Liz Walsh wrote.

"This policy change reflects Microsoft's commitment to lead the industry in providing a safer experience for all our end users, including populations most vulnerable to online scams and other fraud activities," she added.

Bing's misleading content policies page highlights that the two tech support ads that are now disallowed are third-party general tech support and password reset support, which can't be provided by anyone but the product owner.

"Advertisers may not promote online technical support to consumers for products or services that the advertisers do not directly own," the policy states, using a third-party Skype Customer Care ad as a disapproved example.

"Advertisers must not claim to provide a service that can only be provided by the actual owner of the products or service advertised," the policy states.

Google is also cleaning up its AdWords policies to tackle payday loan scammers. It has announced that as of July 13, 2016, it will ban ads for payday loans and some related offerings to protect consumers from deceptive or harmful financial products.

Specifically, it will outlaw ads for loans with a 60-day repayment deadline. In the US, it will also ban ads for loans with an annual percentage rate of 36 percent or higher.

"When reviewing our policies, research has shown that these loans can result in unaffordable payment and high default rates for users so we will be updating our policies globally to reflect that," wrote David Graff, Google's Director or global product policy.

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