Beware of Fake Google Calls Threatening Your Business Listing

Have you received an urgent call claiming your Google business listing needs verification? Hang up immediately – it’s a scam trying to exploit local business owners.

This article provides an in-depth explainer on the fraudulent Google business listing calls and how to protect your business. We’ll break down the scam tactics, red flags to watch for, and steps you can take if you’ve been targeted.

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An Overview of the Scam

The Google business listing scam begins with an automated or pre-recorded robocall. The message states that your Google My Business listing requires urgent confirmation or updating.

Failure to act will supposedly cause your business to stop showing up in local searches. This hooks the listener into pressing 1 or 9 to verify the listing to avoid harming visibility.

In reality, pressing any keys leads to an endless loop of more prerecorded messages and prompts. Scammers never provide actual listing services. Their only goal is capturing your engagement and personal details.

Providing any information exposes you to future baiting for payments, upsells on useless “services,” or even identity theft. The calls persistently continue as new spoofed numbers evade blocking.

Impersonating Google lends credibility, since many local businesses do claim their listings. The high-pressure threat of vanishing from local SEO exploits businesses’ reliance on search visibility and organic traffic.

Next, let’s do a deep dive into how the scam unfolds step-by-step when targets take the bait.

Breaking Down the Google Business Listing Scam Call Process

The scam call follows patterns like:

Step 1: The Cold Call

An automated robocall or pre-recorded message arrives claiming association with Google business listings.

Step 2: Urgency and Threats

The message emphasizes urgent action needed to verify or update your listing to remain visible for searches and maps.

Step 3: Request for Engagement

prompts tell you to press 1 to confirm you are the business owner, or 9 to update listing details.

Step 4: Harvesting Information

If you press 1 or 9, you’ll get stuck in a loop of further prompts requesting more personal or business info.

Step 5: Upselling Useless Services

Scammers leverage captured business info to pitch unrelated “SEO services” for a fee, still posing as Google reps.

Step 6: Repeat Targeting

Your number goes on a “sucker list” for repeat calls or contacts by other scammers since you already engaged once.

In no instance will scammers make actual updates or provide any real services to your business listing or presence on Google.

Warning Signs of the Google Listing Scam

Watch for these red flags when receiving calls about Google business listings:

  • Random cold call, email, or text without prompting from you.
  • Threatening imminent removal of your listing if you don’t act now.
  • Requests for personal information like SSNs or bank accounts.
  • Asks for payment via wire transfer, prepaid debit card, gift card, or cryptocurrency.
  • Caller uses an urgent, threatening tone demanding immediate action.
  • You cannot select to opt out of calls or ask to be removed from the contact list.

Any time a random call invokes urgency, threatens your business, and demands information or payments, exercise extreme caution before engaging further.

Protecting Your Business from Scams

Here are best practices businesses can implement against scams:

  • Never provide personal or account details over an unsolicited call or message.
  • Hang up on any threatening urgent calls demanding immediate payments.
  • Independently look up and call Google support numbers to report scam calls.
  • Setup a Google voice number as the public business contact number. Use your real number only for verified communications.
  • Warn employees against providing info or payments without vetting.
  • Register your business number on the National Do Not Call Registry.

Reporting Scam Calls

If you receive a fraudulent Google business listing call:

  • File an official complaint with the FTC at or 1-888-382-1222.
  • Submit a complaint to the FCC at or 1-888-225-5322.
  • Report the scam call to Google My Business support.
  • Leave online reviews detailing the scam call to warn other businesses.

By understanding the red flags and likely scripts of scam calls, we can protect businesses from their tricks and sabotage their deceitful gambits before any damage is done. Please share this article if you found it useful, and let’s unite against scammers aiming to exploit local businesses everywhere.

How Scammers Leverage Google Branding to Target Businesses

Scammers rely on two key factors to make their Google business listing calls successful – impersonation and implied threats. Understanding how they exploit these elements can help businesses spot and shut down the scam.

Impersonating Trusted Google Branding

The scammers pose as representatives of Google My Business, which allows companies to manage their listings on Google Search and Maps. Over 70% of searches on Google are for local intent, so appearing properly on Maps and in results is critical for visibility.

This means most small business owners are actively engaged with the Google My Business platform in some way. They likely received a confirmation call when first verifying their listing years back.

So a call now claiming to be Google My Business support carries legitimacy – what owner wouldn’t believe a call from the very service they rely on for customers? Even if the number appears spoofed, the content implies association.

Scammers know business owners have likely interacted with Google My Business in the past. This establishes just enough brand familiarity for their ruse.

Exploiting Fears of Losing Rankings

Next, scammers capitalize on business owners’ reliance on Google for revenue and customers. They know visibility in local search rankings are vital for survival.

So the scam calls always threaten imminent removal of your listing from search and maps if you don’t verify it. This presses business owners’ fear button – what if we become invisible and lose all our Google traffic source? Better act now just in case.

In reality, Google would never suddenly remove properly verified listings without specific policy violations. Legitimate changes or suspensions involve direct notifications with details on resolving issues to regain inclusion.

But scammers bank on causing enough uncertainty to prod targets into providing personal details or even payments to avoid perceived risk. Many figure giving up some info is worth avoiding harm to their listings.

This blend of impersonation and implied risk gives scammers the one-two punch needed to elicit engagement from a skeptical business owner. But understanding their strategies is key to overcoming these psychological hooks and rejecting their calls outright.

Key Takeaways for Businesses

Here are critical facts for business owners to remember about Google listing scam calls:

  • Google does not call unexpectedly to verify or remove listings. They directly email notification of issues.
  • Listings would never suddenly vanish without specific confirmed policy violations occurring first.
  • Actual Google calls already have your business details – they won’t ask for info you’ve already provided.
  • Google support will never request personal data like SSNs or banking/payment info by phone.
  • If unsure, independently look up and call Google support yourself to check for policy updates or listing status changes.

Stay vigilant against phone scams aiming to exploit your reliance on Google for business visibility and growth.

Frequently Asked Questions About the Fake Google Listing Call Scam

1. What is the fake Google business listing call scam?

This is a fraudulent robocall scheme where scammers impersonate Google My Business support. They call small business owners and claim urgent action is needed to verify or update their Google business listing to avoid removal. It’s a ploy to harvest personal information or get payments.

2. What do the scam callers say in their message?

They cite an urgent issue with your Google listing requiring immediate confirmation, or face imminent removal from local search and maps. Prompts tell you to press 1 to confirm as the business owner, or 9 to update listing details.

3. What are signs it’s a fraudulent Google listing call?

Red flags include threatening imminent removal, urgent demands, requests for sensitive details like SSNs, asks for unusual payments, inability to opt-out, repeated calls from different numbers.

4. What should I do if I get a call about my Google business listing?

Hang up immediately if any shady factors are present. Do not press 1 or 9. Independently contact Google My Business support to check your listing status.

5. How can I avoid the Google business listing scam call?

Register your number on the National Do Not Call Registry. Use a Google Voice number as your public business line. Warn staff not to engage with unsolicited calls.

6. Can Google remove my business listing without notice?

No, Google would only remove properly verified listings after sending notifications regarding policy violations and giving the opportunity to resolve any issues.

7. What’s the goal of the fake Google calls?

The scammers aim to harvest personal information or dupe targets into paying for useless services. Their calls persist to get business owners engaged on the line.

8. Why does the caller ID look like it’s from Google?

Scammers use caller ID spoofing to falsify the number displayed on your phone. This makes it appear to be a legitimate call from Google or its My Business team.

9. Should I update my Google listing if asked over the phone?

No, never make changes or provide any information over a surprise call stating they are from Google. Login to your Google My Business account directly to make legitimate updates.

10. How do I report fake calls about Google business listings?

Report to the FTC or FCC online or by phone. File a complaint with Google My Business support. Leave online reviews warning others of the scam targeting business owners.

How to Stay Safe Online

Here are 10 basic security tips to help you avoid malware and protect your device:

  1. Use a good antivirus and keep it up-to-date.

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    It's essential to use a good quality antivirus and keep it up-to-date to stay ahead of the latest cyber threats. We are huge fans of Malwarebytes Premium and use it on all of our devices, including Windows and Mac computers as well as our mobile devices. Malwarebytes sits beside your traditional antivirus, filling in any gaps in its defenses, and providing extra protection against sneakier security threats.

  2. Keep software and operating systems up-to-date.


    Keep your operating system and apps up to date. Whenever an update is released for your device, download and install it right away. These updates often include security fixes, vulnerability patches, and other necessary maintenance.

  3. Be careful when installing programs and apps.

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    Pay close attention to installation screens and license agreements when installing software. Custom or advanced installation options will often disclose any third-party software that is also being installed. Take great care in every stage of the process and make sure you know what it is you're agreeing to before you click "Next."

  4. Install an ad blocker.

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    Use a browser-based content blocker, like AdGuard. Content blockers help stop malicious ads, Trojans, phishing, and other undesirable content that an antivirus product alone may not stop.

  5. Be careful what you download.

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    A top goal of cybercriminals is to trick you into downloading malware—programs or apps that carry malware or try to steal information. This malware can be disguised as an app: anything from a popular game to something that checks traffic or the weather.

  6. Be alert for people trying to trick you.

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    Whether it's your email, phone, messenger, or other applications, always be alert and on guard for someone trying to trick you into clicking on links or replying to messages. Remember that it's easy to spoof phone numbers, so a familiar name or number doesn't make messages more trustworthy.

  7. Back up your data.

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    Back up your data frequently and check that your backup data can be restored. You can do this manually on an external HDD/USB stick, or automatically using backup software. This is also the best way to counter ransomware. Never connect the backup drive to a computer if you suspect that the computer is infected with malware.

  8. Choose strong passwords.

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    Use strong and unique passwords for each of your accounts. Avoid using personal information or easily guessable words in your passwords. Enable two-factor authentication (2FA) on your accounts whenever possible.

  9. Be careful where you click.

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    Be cautious when clicking on links or downloading attachments from unknown sources. These could potentially contain malware or phishing scams.

  10. Don't use pirated software.

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    Avoid using Peer-to-Peer (P2P) file-sharing programs, keygens, cracks, and other pirated software that can often compromise your data, privacy, or both.

To avoid potential dangers on the internet, it's important to follow these 10 basic safety rules. By doing so, you can protect yourself from many of the unpleasant surprises that can arise when using the web.

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