May 23rd, 2018
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.
Earlier this month, the Federal Trade Commission brought action against Point Break Media, LLC (and related entities and individuals) for misleading small businesses with threats to remove their listings from Google Search and Maps and demands that they pay for unwanted search optimization services.
In the past, we’ve taken various actions to try to stop these predatory practices. And today we’re taking additional steps to address the bad actors that are targeting businesses.
Specifically, as of today:
- We’re taking 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. We hope this sends the message to other scammers out there that we will not hesitate to take legal action against them.
- We’ve developed new automated and manual techniques to better identify Google accounts tied to scam efforts. We’ve updated our policies, so that when we identify Google accounts tied to scams we’re better able to take action—whether that’s removing the accounts from our platforms entirely or limiting their capabilities.
- We’ve created a new tool that lets business owners report scammy practices and policy violations, and provide the specific information needed for us to take action against these third parties.
- We’ve started providing resources and education to local small business organizations and the partners we work with through our Get Your Business Online program, so they can empower their communities to identify, prevent, and report scams. To request a Google speaker to help educate your communities on how to avoid fraud and scams, complete and submit this form.
- We’re launching the Google My Business Partners program. The program will give business owners a directory of trusted partners to choose from when they need help managing their listings.
We’ll continue to take action against these scams and the companies behind them by evolving our products and systems to identify bad actors, making policy changes, making law enforcement referrals and taking legal action when possible. But in addition to our efforts, here are a few things you can do immediately to protect yourself:
- Verify whether someone is actually reaching out from Google. Often these fraudulent callers will use language like, “Google specialist” or “calling about or on behalf of Google.” To verify whether a caller is actually calling from Google, you can ask that they send you an email from a Google email account to further verify their identity. Anyone who works for Google should be able to send you an email from an @google.com email account. The Google Safety Center outlines additional tips.
- Claim your business for free using Google My Business. Once you’ve claimed your business and actively manage your business information, you’re much less likely to be targeted by scammers. Here’s how to claim your business.
- Know what’s possible and not possible when it comes to search engine marketing. There’s no way to request or pay for a better local ranking on Google. Any company that claims to be able to do so may be running a scam.
- If you get an unwanted robocall,hang up the phone. Do not press any key, even if the voice recording prompts you to in order to speak with a live person or to be taken off the call list.
- Report unwanted callers toGoogle, and also the FTC or theFCC.
- Register your personal number with the National Do Not Call Registry (1-888-382-1222).
Small businesses are a crucial part of our economy, and fraud shouldn’t get in the way of helping them grow. We’re committed to protecting our users and taking action to combat scams that take advantage of Google My Business.