Beware Dark Patterns on the Web

These sites are designed to steer or coerce people into making unintended decisions.

You’re on the checkout page when something appears in your shopping basket that you didn’t put there—say, you’re buying a laptop, but insurance sneaks in, too, unless you uncheck a box. Or you think you’re signing up for a one-time deal or even a free trial, but you’ve unintentionally committed to a subscription with recurring fees.

Or maybe your relaxed online browsing session takes on an air of urgency because a countdown timer tells you that a hot deal is about to expire, or the site gives you an “almost out of stock” warning.

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Anne Kates Smith
Executive Editor, Kiplinger's Personal Finance

Anne Kates Smith brings Wall Street to Main Street, with decades of experience covering investments and personal finance for real people trying to navigate fast-changing markets, preserve financial security or plan for the future. She oversees the magazine's investing coverage,  authors Kiplinger’s biannual stock-market outlooks and writes the "Your Mind and Your Money" column, a take on behavioral finance and how investors can get out of their own way. Smith began her journalism career as a writer and columnist for USA Today. Prior to joining Kiplinger, she was a senior editor at U.S. News & World Report and a contributing columnist for TheStreet. Smith is a graduate of St. John's College in Annapolis, Md., the third-oldest college in America.