Google Combating Scammers That Threaten to ‘Take Down’ Search and Maps Listings of Small Businesses
We’ve all heard about the infamous Microsoft Tech support scam, which still seems to be a thing despite most people knowing better. It turns out there’s another variant of the fraud, which involves companies calling up small businesses claiming to be Google. Some business owners are allegedly getting calls from ‘Google’ that threaten to ‘delete’ their Google Search ranking unless they pay for their ‘search optimisation services’. Now, we all know it isn’t Google on the other end, just a bunch of scammers looking to make a quick buck. The real Google caught wind of this scam and isn’t too happy about it. In a blog post today, the company stated that it is beginning to take action against the perpetrators of such scams.
We’re committed to building products and programs that help small businesses grow. Unfortunately, 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. 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. Understandably, these scams are frustrating for business owners and for us at Google.
Google is initiating legal action against “Kydia Inc. d/b/a BeyondMenu, Point Break Media, LLC (and affiliated entities), and Supreme Marketing Group, Inc. d/b/a Small Business Solutions.” The move is intended to act as a deterrent to any future scammers. Earlier this month, the Federal Trade Commission brought initiated proceedings against Point Break Media, LLC (and related entities and individuals) for similar practices. In addition to the legal action, the company has also put in place some education programs for business owners and new measures that allow them to report such scams via a tool. They’ve even developed new techniques to accurately identify scam-related Google accounts which will be limited or shut down, depending on the nature of the violation. Lastly, there is also a new Google My Business Partners program that provides a list of trusted services business can go to if they need help with listings.