Google Business Listing: Phone Scam Overview
In the past people would find local businesses and services in their area by flipping through the Yellow Pages, however all that changed with the rise of Google and other powerful search engines. Now it's more convenient than ever to find local businesses and the services you need, along with reviews, by entering just a few keywords into your browser.
However, if you're a business owner this can make you vulnerable to Google Business listing scams. Perhaps your company's name, phone or address isn't appearing correctly, or you'd like to improve your search ranking. Phone scammers realizing the opportunity for fraud have cleverly devised a way to pose as Google and con hard-working small businesses out of their money.
The Phone Call
The caller will state that they are a Google Business representative and ask the business owner whether or not they feel they are reaching their full potential online. If the business owners seems like they are interested in hearing more, the caller will start to talk about the benefits of paying for a Google business listing. They will tell the business owner that they can improve their search page ranking as well as increase traffic to their website.
The scammer will usually request payment from the business owner in order to set up the new Google Business listing with a wire transfer or prepaid debit card. Another variation of this scam involves the caller not requesting payment at the end of the call, but instead sending an email to the interested business owner.
The email that the scammer sends will contain a link to a website where the business owner can enter their information and register for a new listing. The website is a phishing scam that will collect information and could infect your devices with malware.
In a third variation of this scam, the caller will not ask for payment via phone or email, but will rather send an invoice by mail requesting payment for advertising costs. Many businesses will pay the bill without questioning it's legitimacy.
Keeping the Scammers Away
It's important for business owners to know that Google does not do any of the following things:
- Charge for a business to be included in Google My Business or Google Search
- Call to offer to improve your business' search ranking or update your business' online profile
- Ask for sensitive information such as billing and credit card information, or for your Google account passwords
If you're interested in advertising your business with Google Ads, you should contact Google directly.
Hitting the Scammers Where it Hurts
If someone calls claiming to be from Google, Bing, Yahoo, or another search engine, be skeptical. If they request that you pay for their services or ask for any sort of sensitive information, hang up. You can run a reverse phone lookup on the number that called you to check for suspicious behavior associated with it.
If you find or suspect that a number is being used to perpetrate Google Business listing scams you should report it to Google, the Federal Trade Commission, and also in CallerSmart's community phone book. You can leave your feedback on any U.S. phone number in our online yellow pages directory or in our phone tracing app for iPhone.