True story: In the pursuit of White House tour tickets, I stumbled upon an explicit, adult Web site. I did it at work, meaning the little network Cyber detectives tracked my every move and delivered a detailed report about it to my boss.
I was planning a business trip to Washington, D.C., and figured I’d have a little down time the day of my departure.
I’d never had the chance to take the White House tour so I decided to try to get a ticket. I had been told that I could obtain the tickets by signing up at the White House’s Web site.
No problem, right? The kicker: You have to spell the site’s name correctly.
I zigged when I should have zagged.
That is, I entered in a “.com” extension when I should have entered in a “.gov” extension.
When the alternate site came up, I made a frantic dash to close down my browser.
I could not get my fingers to move fast enough.
It was only after I’d had a minute to process what had happened that I realized my mistake.
As it turns out, many Web sites are hoping you’ll make just that kind of mistake and they’re also hoping you’ll stay awhile and sign up for their services.
Legal? Yes. Ethical? Depends on whom you ask.
Regardless of your opinion on such Internet business tactics, you should be aware that many sites use this ruse as a way to increase traffic to their sites.
One of the most common involves free annual credit reports.
Most folks by now realize they are entitled to a free copy of their credit report each year.
Unfortunately, many people unwittingly go to the Internet and type in the wrong address.
Even entering the words “free credit report” into a search engine such as Google will point you in the wrong direction.
“So what?” you ask.
In this case, the “wrong” site happens to be run by Experian, one of the major credit bureaus.
The site, at freecreditreport.com, requires you to enter your credit card number to get your free report.
While the report itself is free, you’ll be enrolled in a trial membership of a credit monitoring service and, unless you cancel this service, you’ll be charged $12.95 per month. The correct Web site is annualcreditreport.com.
Romi Carrell Wittman is a Tucson-based freelance writer. Reach her at email@example.com.