Google My Business Phone Scam

 

What is Google My Business ?

A listing service from Google to provide customers with information on a business. The business owner can manage their business listing and provide customers with hours of operations, specials, restaurant menus and more. During these trying times, owners can update changes in hours of operation or special announcements like mask requirements. The process is meant to provide customers with relevant, complete and quality info.

Google My Business login


Anatomy of the scam

I recently updated a google business listing and almost immediately noticed a significant spike in the number of calls to the business phone number. Almost all the calls did not have a known callerid or name attached. Most did not leave a message. Almost all the numbers could not be called and had a message saying that the number was not in service. The calling number is being spoofed to appear as if the call is coming from with the area code to appear more legitimate.

Today we received a voicemail stating that a google business listing would be terminated and requires further verification. 

Voicemail call transcript

Our records show your Google Business listing may be suspended or not verified through Google this can cause customers searching for your services to not be able to find your business online. Press one to speak with a sales expert so we can quickly check the status of your Google Business listing. This will only take a few minutes, press nine if you wish to be removed from this list. Thank you and have a nice day.

The unusual part of the call was that it mentioned a completely unrelated business from a decade ago. This did not make sense. Against my better judgment, I called the number back and pressed one to talk to an agent. I could not hear the person on the line clearly and asked them to repeat their greeting. They hung up. I called again and reached a different agent. I asked how they obtained my number and once again they hung up. Very unprofessional and not what one would expect from a legitimate business.

What to make of this ?

This could be a robocall to hundreds or thousands of numbers with this message. Even if 1% of those people call back or answer, the scammers win. Most likely they will ask for personal info or a credit card, who knows. I never got that far. 

During the research process, we found this site, which has additional info on how to report the issue with Google. 


Coincidence or conspiracy

In our case, the timing of this scam seems to coincide with other events. Is it possible scammers are scrapping recently updated info and targeting those businesses?

Clearly, there are real business that would assist a business owner in updating a Google My Business listing, however our experience leads us to believe that these are scammers that are using spoofed numbers and even calling numbers on the dot not call registry. A legitimate and ethical business would have a proper caller id, so that the recipient could identify them and choose to do business with them. 

The calls we receive are predatory and deceptive.


Do it yourself

If you are a business owner, the process is simple and free. Use this Google link and claim your business. Google will mail a physical verification code via paper mail. Once verified, a business owner can manage information about their business.


Proactive steps

- Register the on the Federal Trade Commission(FTC) National Do Not Call Registry 

- Press 9 to opt out ? Use at your own risk. Would this confirm that you are "real person" to the scammers. In our situation, we don't answer unrecognized numbers and received a voicemail. If this was an email phishing scam and you hit the unsubscribe button, it would only serve to confirm that the email address is "live" and the scammer would actually add you to their database for future scams. 

- Report to Google 

- Educate yourself on how to Avoid and report Google scams





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