Did you know that 56 million US residents lost money from a phone scam in 2020, an increase of 30% from the year before? This is with regard to any and all scam calls, of which Google makes up only a small percentage. Nevertheless, that 30% increase is likely to jump again from 2020 to 2021, and with Google being such a prominent part of your marketing plan, it’s important to make sure you can separate the real and the fake.
Tens of thousands of Google My Business users have received calls from suspicious persons or entities claiming to work “with” or “for” Google, attempting to sell services or request payment for benefits that Google provides for free. That’s why in this article, we’re going to:
- Debunk the claims of the current Google My Business call scams.
- Help you identify legitimate listing calls.
- Direct you to the proper Google My Business support resources.
What Are Real Google My Business Listing Calls?
Before we go over the current Google My Business call scam, let’s take a look at the handful of scenarios in which Google will actually give you a call.
1. Business Listing Phone Verification
Verifying your business on Google can be a pain at times, but it is necessary if you want to optimize your listing to rank high in local results. Depending on the type of business you have, it may or may not qualify for Google’s phone verification process. If it does, this is one of the most common reasons Google will be contacting your business directly. The verification call can only be initiated with your consent, meaning you’ll know exactly when to expect it. During the verification call, Google won’t ask you for any personal or business-related information. Instead, they’ll simply provide you with a unique code for completing the verification prompt on your screen.
Once you receive the code, you can then enter it into a prompt that looks something like this:
2. Non-Sales Tasks
Another common reason Google may be calling your business directly is to perform some fact-checking as a service to search engine users. These automated calls are strictly performed for non-sales purposes such as verifying business hours or reservation availability. It’s also worth noting that these calls are only made to business with a public phone number. So, if your GMB doesn’t have a number listed, you can automatically flag any Google task-related calls as a scam and hang up promptly.
3. Customer Service & Account Support
The last reason Google would be giving your business a call is in response to a customer service or account support-related matter. These calls are most commonly made in reference to a Google My Business, Google Ads, or Google Play account that you have recently submitted an error report or ticket for. During these types of calls, you’ll be speaking directly with a Google operator that will identify themselves as such before proceeding for authentification purposes. They will never ask for payment information or offer any kind of performance guarantee for business listings and Google Ads accounts.
It’s important to note that Google does make a mix of automated calls and manual calls from an operator, so do give the call a few exchanges before immediately hanging up.
What Is the Google My Business Call Scam?
Sadly, there are hundreds of shady individuals and “businesses” out there that try to scam Google My Business listing owners with fraudulent calls. Below, we’ve outlined the most common Google My Business call scam to look out for.
“Hello, I’m calling on behalf of Google.”
If you’ve received any call that starts with this opening line or a similar variation, there’s a pretty good chance you’ve been the target of a Google My Business scam. Initiated by shady third-party companies, these calls aim to convince Google My Business listing owners to pay for services that are either already offered for free or that don’t exist.
By claiming to be calling on behalf of or even from Google, these scam calls are designed to gain the trust of whoever they’ve targeted by simply throwing out Google’s name. Once they have one foot in the door, they’ll typically proceed to offer a boost in search rankings (which you can do yourself) or any number of optimization services for a fee.
The truth of the matter is, many of the services these third-party companies are attempting to make money on are already offered to Google My Business listing owners by Google for free.
Threatening to Remove Your Listing
Another common scam they’ll employ is threatening to remove your company’s listing from Google Search and Map results if you don’t pay for the renewal fee (which doesn’t exist).
How to Identify Fake Google Calls
Because there are so many different variations of Google call scams, you never know what kind of tactics will be employed the next time you’re targeted. That being said, below we’ve outlined a few guidelines that can help you identify any scammer.
1. Google Employee Verification
One of the easiest ways to identify a Google My Business scam call is by asking the caller to verify their identity. Any employee calling from Google will be more than happy to provide you with a verification email from an @google.com account. If they try to dodge the question or provide any other form of verification such as a false ID number, the call is most likely a scam.
2. Google Never Asks for Personal Information
Another telltale sign that you’re dealing with a scammer is when they ask for personal information such as your password, verification code, or payment information. Always aiming to protect their users, Google will never ask for this information regardless of the reason they’re calling. If you hear a request for any of this information, it’s a scam.
3. Google Will Not Attempt to Sell Services
As we touched on earlier in this article, Google will never call you attempting to sell services such as account management, search engine boosts, or the removal of bad reviews. Because Google doesn’t contract with any third-party companies, you can immediately mark any call that tries to sell you something as a scam.
What to Do if You Receive a Scam Call
You can simply hang up on scam calls, or you can take extra steps to help Google and other institutions to crack down on these malicious activities.
Do not press any keys.
Even if the automated call tells you to press a key to be taken off the call list, this could easily lead to even more calls. Your best bet is to just hang up, or give the call some time to collect information and then report the call (see below).
Report suspicious calls in the US.
You can also report suspicious calls to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) by going to www.donotcall.gov or calling 1-888-382-1222. Another option is to submit a complaint to the Federal Communications Commission.
Report the call to Google.
Google is aware of the existing fraudulence on its platforms, especially for Google reviews and the calls we’re talking about here. They have their own complaint system that you can access here. Once there, be sure to provide:
- The caller’s company and contact information
- Any additional documentation you received from them (emails, documents)
- Any other information you can provide about the call.
Additional resources for scam calls.
- The FTC’s tips on handing robocalls.
- Your phone company: see if they can block specific numbers from contacting you.
- National Do Not Call Registry: Concat them via their website or call 1-888-382-1222.
- Google’s Safety Center.
How to Call the Real Google
We’ve got a more extensive article on the different ways to contact Google for your business, but if you are just looking for a number to call, try the number below:
GMB Contact Number: 1-844-491-9665
Hours of Operation: Monday-Friday 9 a.m.-6 p.m. EST
Keep in mind that you may have to wait a little while before getting someone on the line. Even though Google does a great job managing the massive number of contact requests they receive every day, thousands of business owners, just like you, are looking to talk to a live person.
Be Aware of Google Scam Calls
In a perfect world, the only calls you’d receive for your Google My Business listing would be actual customers expressing their interest. Sadly, that is not the world we live in. Follow these tips and steps so you can protect your business from fraud.