Researchers documented that 233 domains containing the keywords annual credit report or close misspellings of annualcreditreport.com had been registered.  Of the total registered imposter domains, 112 +/- 3 were online and available to consumers as of June, 2005. The pretender domains showed up in some search engine results, and some of the pretender domains showed up in some search engines’ paid or sponsored listings sections.
The annualcreditreport.com imposter domains were using sophisticated variations of online bait-and-switch techniques to lure consumers to the wrong sites. Primary techniques included the following:
As discussed previously, the imposter domains fall into two broad categories: the imposters are either “SSN grabbers” or they are “link farms.” The SSN grabbers comprise a minority of the imposter domains. These domains make money by collecting consumer information and sharing it with others for a fee or for barter.
Many of the imposter domains are link farms registered to or connected in some way with pay-per-click advertisers or Web hosting companies. Pay-per-click and domain hosting companies specialize in creating hundreds and sometimes thousands of domains for the primary purpose of making money from consumer clicks from links or ads associated with affiliate marketers.
During the research period ending June 30 2005, Researchers uncovered 233 total imposter domains, 112 of which at the time of research were online and were actively engaging consumers in a way that was either fraudulent, confusing, or deceptive.