INDIANAPOLIS – As so many of us are just getting familiar with the still-emerging world of Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology, federal regulators are cautioning consumers to be wary of scammers who are looking to cash in on the nation’s new fascination with it.

The Federal Trade Commission says it is already getting reports of scam artists posting ads on social media sites and search engines for bogus AI tools and software.  Somehow, the FTC says the bad guys are able to avoid detection by systems designed to block malicious advertising and antivirus software. 

If you click on one of these ads, it will take you to a cloned website that installs malware to your computer or device.  Or, it might take you to the real software website and install the malware through a “back door” which makes it difficult to know you’ve been hacked.

Once the malware is installed, the hackers are in and they can start grabbing your information to sell to other cyber crooks.

While some of the ads may seem realistic and tricky, the FTC says there is a simple way to avoid getting hacked; don’t click on them.  If you see an ad for software that you’re interested in, instead of clicking on the ad, go to the website directly by typing in the address.  If you don’t know the web address, search for the name of the software.  

However, keep in mind that the bad guys are putting their ads on search engines and they might appear at the top of your search results labeled “ad” or “sponsored.”  Scroll past those in order to get to your true search results.

The FTC also recommends installing antivirus software on your computer as a way of guarding against tricky ads like these.  The FTC has tips on doing that, as well as removing malware and recovering a hacked account on its website.