Typos can cost you

Here’s another scam you might want to know about.


If you accidentally type the wrong Internet address into your Web browser, you could end up on a site where you might be tricked into entering personal information that could be used to steal your identity or commit other kinds of fraud.


This is because scammers sometimes register Internet addresses (also called “domain names” or “URLs”) that are similar to the Internet addresses of popular Web sites or are common misspellings of popular Web sites.


For example, instead of www.microsoft.com, the scammer might create a Web page with the address:





This is called “typo-squatting” or “cybersquatting.” Scammers register these domain names in order to compete with the popular site or to earn money through advertisements. If you enter the wrong URL you might be taken to a site where you’ll see an ad for the site you really wanted. If you click on that ad, you might get to where you want to go with an extra click and the scammer earns some money at the same time.


Typo-squatters and cybersquatters can also be the purveyors of more insidious scams, such as downloading malicious software applications and spyware onto unprotected computers that visit their sites.


The United States and other countries have passed legislation to help challenge cybersquatting registrations, and the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has made efforts to remedy the situation, but cybersquatters are still out there.



How to help avoid being typo scammed:


·          Add Web sites you use often and any financial Web sites you use to your Favorites list and only access them through your Favorites menu.

·          Use a Web browser that contains phishing protection, like Internet Explorer 7 with Phishing Filter. To enable the Microsoft Phishing Filter, go to Tools and click Phishing Filter.

·          Check for an Extended Validation SSL Certificates.  Internet Explorer 7 visually displays the validation of this certificate with a green address bar.


Extended Validation SSL Certificate



For information on how to protect your business from cybersquatting, read Protecting Your Business from Online Threats, a white paper by Craig Spiezle, Director of Online Safety Technologies & Practices at Microsoft and Christian Merida, Director of Congressional & Public Affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.



About the Author
Eve Blakemore

Group Manager, Trustworthy Computing

Eve Blakemore is a Group Manager for Trustworthy Computing who delivers consumer guidance around the latest trends in security and privacy. Eve joined Microsoft in 1998 and has worked in corporate and field roles with Microsoft Learning, US Public Sector, Read more »