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Updated June 2023
The Internet has spurred countless new ways for scammers to take advantage of the innocent. One of them, the Google business listings scam, is specifically intended to defraud legitimate businesses. In this trick, scammers impersonate a Google representative by contacting businesses and requesting payment to set up or renew their listings. If you want to keep your business safe, keep reading to learn how to protect yourself from a Google listings scam.
How to Spot a Google Business Listings Scam
When you receive a call, the person on the other end will likely say they’re from a “Google-authorized company” certified to claim business listings on Google’s behalf. Don’t take the bait! In 2021, Google stopped almost 8 million attempts of scammers trying to claim profiles that didn’t belong to them. Typically, they’ll target new business owners whose profiles haven’t been set up yet or induce panic by telling owners of existing profiles that their listings have been flagged for removal or renewal.
The easiest way to spot a scam is by remembering that Google Business Profile is a free tool. While you may choose to hire a digital marketing agency to optimize your business listings, you’re not required to pay Google or any other entity to claim your business listings.
Telling a Fake Google Listing Call From a Real One
Keep in mind that it’s possible you may be getting a real call from a Google operator, but you need to pay close attention to make sure it’s the real deal. If Google does call you, it’ll likely be to confirm general information about an existing listing. We recommend reviewing Google’s guidelines on spotting fake calls. One key thing to remember is that Google never asks for payment, sign-up, or sensitive information over the phone.
What to Do After Being Contacted
If a caller tries to elicit payment from you to claim your listing, flag them immediately. After filing a report, place your name on the National Do Not Call list if you haven’t already. Of course, you still risk being contacted since you’re not dealing with a legitimate telemarketing company that engages in ethical business practices.
Now that you know what to look for in the future, we encourage you to share this information with other business owners. These illegitimate companies often ask for hundreds of dollars, which is a blow to any organization. Remember: Google business listings are free, and they do not expire. Reach out to our team of experts today for more information on how to optimize your listings for better search results and protect your business while expanding your digital marketing efforts.