Beware of Google Business Scammers!
Business owners receive seemingly countless calls, most of which are legitimate. Unfortunately, scammers are getting better and better at emulating those legitimate calls in order to take advantage of business owners. Truecaller, the maker of an app that blocks spam calls, estimates that nearly 70 million Americans lost nearly $40 billion to various phone scams in 2022 alone. While they’re not all Google-related, this is a serious problem and likely isn’t going anywhere soon. No one is immune to these calls, our CEO has even shared her experiences with these calls.
We’ve got some tips for identifying if that call you’re receiving about your Google Business Profile is real, or if it’s a scam.
Important note from Google:
“Google does not make unsolicited sales calls from an automated system. However, we may place automated phone calls to your business for non-sales tasks such as confirming your business details for Google Maps, making reservations, or scheduling appointments on behalf of Google users. In some cases, these calls can be from a manual operator.”
Google or Scammers? Identifying Legitimate Calls From Google
Business owners may receive an automated call from Google regarding their business listing. These calls may confirm hours or check the operating status of a business. When receiving an automated call from Google, you will never be asked to sign up or pay for any services or provide sensitive personal information. If you receive an automated call that requests confirmation of sensitive information or asks for payment information, it is NOT Google.
As with automated calls, when Google operators contact a business, it is “for the purposes of development, customer service, or support related to your Google Ads, Google Play, or other Google accounts” and the operators will never request payment or sensitive personal information, or guarantee rankings or placements.
Types of Google Business Profile Scams
One of the most common scams is businesses claiming to be with Google or calling on behalf of Google, offering to help you set up or remove your Google Business Profile. These scams will often target smaller businesses, especially those who have not yet claimed their Business Profiles. They will request payment to optimize your profile or boost your rankings.
Another common scam involves calling business owners and threatening to take down their profiles unless the business pays them. Sometimes these scammers will also claim to work for or with Google, but not always.
Identifying Scam Calls
Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to determine if a call is legitimate or a scam. Scammers work diligently to stay ahead of the curve in order to take advantage of business owners. Here are some major red flags that will quickly show you someone is a scammer:
- Third-Party Representatives
One of the easiest ways to identify a scam is when a company calls claiming to be working “with Google” or “for Google” in an attempt to sell services or products to business owners. Google does not hire third-party contractors or companies to work with customers on their behalf, so this is an obvious red flag.
- Paid Services
Google Business Profiles are free. Google never charges to add, update, edit, or remove listings. Any time someone claims to be Google, but wants payment information for listing changes or updates, they are not “with” Google.
- Sensitive Personal Information
Like your bank, Google will never contact you and ask for personal information including passwords, social security numbers, codes, or other sensitive information. If someone calls you claiming to be Google and asks for this information, hang up immediately.
- Emergency Issue With Listing
Some callers will even claim that there’s an urgent issue or emergency with your listing and that they need your password or payment info to fix it for you. They’ll claim that the phone number on your listing is incorrect and is sending business to another company, or that the listing isn’t visible to users, or countless other scary situations. Do not fall for this, it’s not Google, and they’re definitely not calling to help you out.
What to do About Suspicious Callers Pretending to be Google
If you suspect a call is fraudulent, you can hang up. Do not press a key or ask to be transferred to be removed from the call list, as this often results in more unwanted calls.
Calls pretending to be Google or even pretending to be working “with” or “for” Google should be reported. If you’re in the US and receive unwanted calls, you can submit a complaint to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). To file a formal complaint, go to www.donotcall.gov or call 1-888-382-1222. You can also submit a complaint to the Federal Communications Commission and report them to Google directly via their webform with the caller’s contact information and any other information you receive from them.
Preventing Calls From Scammers
Completely eliminating or preventing these calls is nearly impossible, but there are some steps you can take to help reduce your accessibility to scammers. The best and most immediate thing you can do is simply hang up when they call. If you don’t provide them with information, there’s little risk to you, aside from the frustration and annoyance you experience when scammers call you.
- While your business number needs to be public, you can take measures to protect your personal contact information, which will help reduce some frustration. If you’re in the US, register your personal number with the National Do Not Call Registry at: www.donotcall.gov/register/reg.aspx or call 1-888-382-1222 to register.