Google Places Phone Scam
You wake up one morning and head to work to run your business. You have 100 things on your mind from inventory to employee problems and new clients. You look down and you have missed a call, oh great, they left a voice mail.
The voicemail says it is Chris from Google and your website has been flagged on Google Places for deletion. Chris goes on in a very official way to say he has tried to contact you previously by email and if you do not call him back at 555-555-5555 by 2:15 today, your Google Places page will be taken down FOREVER.
Immediately your heart rate jumps. You quickly go over in your mind the last time you checked your emails and wondering how sure are you that you even checked the junk folder. You start to think about all the calls you have been getting from your website since you moved into the top 3 organic search results for your keywords. You imagine all that business you will be losing, OH NO!
You listen to the message a get and jot down the name number and extension. You fumble to dial the phone and finally get it in. After a few rings, a nice woman picks up.
"Hello this is Google, Heather speaking, how may I direct your call?".
"I got this message that I would be deleted from Google by a guy name Chirs at extension 212"
"Just one moment"
The line transfers and after a couple of rings, you have Chris on the phone.
"Hello this is Chris, may I have your phone number please"
"Okay sir, you have been flagged as a non-verfied account, I will just need you to wait for another call, you will get a verification code. Call me right back and give that code to me and I can get this all cleared up for you."
Relief comes over you, you sure are glad you checked your voicemail before the 2:15 cutoff. you get the Google robo call with the verification, you call Chris back and give him the code and all is well, life can go back to normal and your Google top ranking is in tact.
You have just been conned. Chris now calls you and tells you about a service he is offering from anywhere from 100-500$ per month to keep your Google Places page online. He does not work at Google, he is a pitch man/con man. You have given him authority over your page by giving him the code. You have a few options which all are bad. You can report him and wait for that to be resolved. You can pay him and be held hostage forever. You can start a new places page and lose your current ranking and page age. Or, you can just write off Google Places and the business it drives forever.
This could have been easily avoided. All con artists give clues to their true pupose and who they really are. The one thing they play on is the urgency and emotion created by their calls.
In this instance I will give a few reasons you should have been suspicious from the beginning.
1. They called you. If it isn't a salesmen for adwords, it is best to assume that a multi-billion dollar company isn't going to spend the time to call you. They would delete it and wait for you to call them.
2. When you called you got ahold of someone! A corporation of this size will normally have a long wait time.
3. They ask you to verify information that you already verified. Google is no dummies, they have any informatino you previously provided.
4. A simple search tells you what you need to know. Doing a simple search will bring up various similar cons attempted and how people have been taken by them. Sometimes even the same phone number will have been used.
In your day to day operations, you probably dont always have time or energy to figure out what is what when it comes to your website on Google or anywhere else. It always pays to have a website SEO company looking out for you and your interests. They will always be able to point out these types of scams in a second and put your mind at ease.