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Is That Phone Call Really from Google?

By | 07.18.16
Is That Phone Call Really from Google?
Is that phone call really from Google?

Many small businesses across the country report continuing to receive calls from telemarketers claiming to be Google. Although this scam is several years old (it began in earnest in 2011 around the time that Google Local was really taking off), it obviously has yet to run its course.

These calls are automated, meaning when you pick up the phone you’ll hear a recorded message asking you to press a button to speak with a representative. While the “representatives” claim an association with Google, they are actually from unethical companies that are selling verification services or various online marketing schemes, trying to procure sensitive information, or otherwise luring small businesses into giving them their money.

These type of robocalls are actually illegal in the United States (under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act), and Google has nothing to do with them. However, the company’s reputation has suffered for this, as many recipients have come to mistakenly believe over the years that Google is involved with the calls.

Google has had enough. In September, 2015, the Internet giant filed a lawsuit against the SEO firm it claims is behind many of these telemarketing calls, Local Lighthouse Co., based in Tustin, California. The suit is pending in the Northern District of California.  Along with the lawsuit, Google also launched a new Safety Center page, giving small business owners clear directives on how best to handle, report, and prevent robocall scams.

How to Know if It’s a Scam

To start, it’s important for small businesses to know that Google does reach out to businesses to verify business information or confirm details for Google Maps. However, in this case, they will only ask for location information or questions related to a business listing; no selling or exchange of money is involved. The best way for small businesses to protect themselves is to keep themselves informed on Google’s latest business practices.

On the help page of its My Business site, Google makes clear what phone calls do not come from the company. Knowing Google’s company policies can help you detect the red flags much sooner. Remember that a Google associate will never:

  • Charge a small business for inclusion in Google My Business or Google Search.
  • Offer a fee-based service to improve your business’s search ranking or manage your online profile.
  • Ask you for sensitive information over the phone about your Google account, including your Google password or verification code.

If you do happen to receive a robocall claiming to be associated with Google, the Federal Trade Commission has now established a consumer information site that walks you through the steps you can take to protect yourself and your business. In addition, if your number is already on the Do Not Call list, you are strongly encouraged to file a complaint at the National Do Not Call Registry.

More on reporting Google Scams

 

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Comment
  • Ryan

    Hello,

    This just happened to one of my current clients. I met with her, her husband, and son today and pitched an Orange Bundle to upgrade her current program (Google plus, claiming on affiliates/ and 40+ prominent internet sites, website/mob web, superpages.com, Reputation Monitoring). She wanted to discuss it with them and contact other companies who were trying to sell them the same thing.

    She called me about 3 hours after meeting with her and said someone from “Google” was offering a program that was $199 start-up fee, $99/mo for the first year, $49 after the first year guarantee for life and it was to guarantee front page listing on Google, Yahoo, & Bing, 7 page Google-optimized website, unlimited clicks, and a daily report. My manager and I told her that this does not sound legit and she trusted us so much that we 3-way called the “Google” guy and he was talking in circles. When he realized we calling him on his bluff and was asking for him to give us our Google account number he then stated he was not a Google employee but is contracted with them. He became so upset he ended up saying he sells 10 of these a day and didn’t need their business and disconnected the call (Rude!!) ! Amazing! But the good thing is I was able to build credibility with the client and was glad that she allowed me and my manager to be on the call.

    • Marion Jacobson

      Wow Ryan, that’s great that you were able to protect your client that way and expose the scammer. If their services and products were legitimately worthwhile, why would they pretend to be Google? Why wouldn’t they want to present themselves honestly?

  • We are going on our 3rd year of being open and we cant seem to get one page one or two. The phones are not ringing with summer right around the corner. We cant seem to get a good SEO that doesn’t want an arm and leg to help….

    • Marion Jacobson

      Hi Renee –

      We do have some great folks here who could possibly help you with that. If you’re interested in finding out more, you can click on the green Get Started button anywhere on our site, or let me know if you’d like someone to email you or send me your phone number and I’ll have a consultant call you.

      Thanks for reading!

  • I get a few calls a day by scammers, I either do not take the phone, or check the call later from all over US, or listen to them without talking, and have told them off rudly so many times myself when they disconnent the line, but they rethlesly call again on different no. and I think this is the best way to deal with these so called craps, as services. If you wish, I can send you bunch the tel # I have about all these telemarketers. Thanks

    Can you email me about your advertsing and any associated cost.

    • Danielle Celmer

      Mark thanks for reading, we’d be more than happy to help! Please email social@dexmedia.com with your contact information and we’ll make sure to get you information about our advertising. Looking forward to working with you! Thanks.

  • Becky

    We have been getting calls from such scammers for many months….LONG before we even had Google e-mails or Google+ page! They always say that our business listings are needing updates and/or about to expire. We are NOT a business! And we have had our UNLISTED # on the National Do-not-call list since day 1!! FED UP!! Never answer phone anymore unless known number.

    • Marion Jacobson

      I feel your pain, Becky!

      Sometimes I think the scammers must be targeting the do-not-call list. It’s a shame how many people get taken advantage of with their tactics.

  • I received a call from “Google and Bing” I thought it was weird because they are 2 different companies. and it said “press 1 to take action if not, google will officially mark your website as closed.” I hung up.

    • Grayz

      Hot dang, you’re pretty!
      (I promise, this isn’t a scam, it’s true! Heck, I’ll actually give YOU money!)
      Lol, jk…. but seriously, I’ve been getting like 5 calls a day from the same robot.

  • SGA2

    I am constantly (at least daily) getting calls from different New York numbers claiming to be google wanting to verify my site. I actually AM having problems verifying my site, but I don’t believe these calls are from Google. I wish they were, – might be helpful 🙁 It is Google that virtually insisted that I include a phone number on my small business map listing. Last time I was called, I asked “how can I tell you are not spam?” And the guy hung up.

  • Lisa Cowdin

    We are getting calls at least twice a day. There is no opt out. If you hit 9 (like it says) it hangs up on you. I have waited to speak to a rep and twice I have said can I be taken off the call list and both times separate people have hung up on me. Is this legal?

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