Small businesses on Google’s Local Listing are not even spared from frauds — in order to protect SMBs and to combat scammers that take advantage of Google My Business listing, the company is stepping up its efforts and has announced a new set of initiatives.
“We continue to receive complaints from business owners about calls they receive claiming to be from Google. Often these calls are actually third-party companies who are trying to take advantage of them,” wrote Google. Adding, “Sometimes these scammers claim to be able to improve a business’ Google Search rankings, other times they charge money for services that Google offers for free,” Google said.
Earlier this month, the Federal Trade Commission brought action against Point Break Media, LLC (and related entities and individuals) for misleading small businesses with threats to remove their listings from Google Search and Maps and demands that they pay for unwanted search optimization services.
Google has developed new tools and is also filing new lawsuit’s as well as educational programs for taking action against scammers. Here are additional steps that addresses these bad actors targeting small businesses:
First up, the company is taking legal action against many entities including affiliated entities.
New automated and manual tools helping in identifying accounts tied to scammers and better able to take action including “removal of these accounts entirely” or “limiting their capabilities.”
Google has developed a new tool to enable businesses report scams and policy violations with specific information needed to take action.
Google is working with partners through its ‘Get Your Business Online’ program to empower communities to identify, prevent, and report scams by providing them resources and education. SMBs can request a Google speaker to help educate their communities by filling out this form.
Also, Google is giving businesses a directory of trusted partners through a new Google My Business Partners program, so they can select a partner when they need help managing their listings.
In addition to above initiatives, Google is also recommending business owners to immediately follow steps listed below to protect themselves:
- Make callers send you an email from a @google.com account to verify whether someone is actually reaching out from Google or it’s a fraudulent callers who often use language like, “Google specialist” or “calling about or on behalf of Google.”
- Claim your business for free using Google My Business.
- Claims for Search Engine (SEO) Ranking of Local Business on Google is fake. There’s no official way to request or pay for a better local ranking on Google.
- Do not respond to robocalls — just hang up the phone and “don’t respond even if the voice recording prompts you to speak with a live person.”
- Register your number with the National Do Not Call Registry (1-888-382-1222).
- Report unwanted callers to Google, and also to FTC or the FCC.