Tips on avoiding and detecting hackers from destroying your PPC accounts. If hackers obtain access to your pay-per-click account (your Google AdWords, Yahoo! Search Marketing ads, or Microsoft adCenter account), they are in complete control of your pay-per-click activity and could place ads on their behalf but charge your account for them, according to a recent article by Greg Laptevsky.

Hackers are likely to do one of two things. First, they could bury their own keywords and ads deep in your account without changing anything else, such as settings and budgets. The idea is to run ads quietly so the account owner doesn’t know he’s paying for somebody else’s clicks.

Second, hackers could dump all sorts of high-cost keywords into your account and adjust budgets to hundreds of thousands of dollars per day while you could end up paying thousands of dollars for nothing.

So how to determine if you are a victim of this type of fraud? According to Greg Laptevsky, you should at least:

  • Run keyword reports weekly and look beyond the first page (many advertisers tend to ignore keywords that are not in their top 50 list).
  • Look for keywords that shouldn’t be there. Also, run ad reports to figure out if you have any unfamiliar ads.
  • Keep track of your normal ad spend and always be suspicious if there is a spike in costs.
  • Check on your accounts frequently.

Greg Laptevsky also points out that you can prevent your passwords from being stolen by:

  • Setting up free image protection in your Yahoo! Search Marketing login page (Yahoo! is the first one to recognize the seriousness of the issue).
  • Changing your passwords each month.
  • Installing and running spyware detection and anti-virus software, such as Google Pack (google.com/pack), which has both for free.
  • Ignoring any emails asking you to update passwords or verify something in your pay-per-click account.
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