They say impersonation is the sincerest form of flattery, but when it comes to the internet, copy cats don’t always have the best intentions. The act of duping someone on the web is simple, and unfortunately, common as of late.

Recently, we’ve seen ads show up across social media sites and, websites claiming to be from well-established companies, when in reality they’re quite the opposite. What’s more, these bogus ads aren’t only fooling users with misleading information, but they could be potentially impacting their personal security as well.

This past week, McAfee saw this kind of scam impact our customers firsthand, as a few people mentioned on Twitter they were duped by ads pretending to be our antivirus product. As to be expected, most were concerned because these fake ads could potentially have a malicious intent. And unfortunately, sometimes they do. One user told us they had unwittingly purchased a Groupon for McAfee, only to find out she was being scammed and possibly infected with malware to boot (which has since been reported to Groupon).

We’re just one of the many brands out there being negatively impacted by these bogus ads, which can ultimately harm both consumers and businesses. So, now the question is, what can people do to ensure they avoid fake ads, and not risk their personal security? We have a few tips on how to combat this scam:

1. Go straight to the source

Advertisements are a great way to get the word out about a product, but if you see an ad and know you’re interested in a solution, navigate directly to the company’s website to look into their offerings. That way, you can know you’re buying from a trusted source.

2. See what the company has to say

At McAfee, both our technical support team and social team have helped clarify with consumers whether a deal or ad is one of our own. So, if you’re ever unsure of an offering, reach out directly to a company and ask about it before you pursue it.

3. Stay secure while you browse

Sometimes it’s hard to identify whether a website is full of fake ads, or whether it can be trusted or not. So, add an extra layer of security to your browser, and surf the web safely by utilizing McAfee SiteAdvisor.