It is most likely that anyone with a business website has received their fair share of cold calls from online vendors selling their services. Cold calling is a legit form of advertising employed by enterprises offering goods and services to the public. However, not all cold callers lead you to believe they are Google verification when in fact, they are not.
The scam is making you believe that it is Google calling to verify your listing. That is the hook. Instead it is a sales call from an unknown to provide listing management. This may very well be true but the call is not from Google and the cold caller does not work with or for them.
The first phone call received caught me completely off guard. Being greeted by a recording stating “Our records show that you have not verified your Google listing. To verify your listing press #1.” This was followed by another recorded message saying the call would be monitored/recorded for training purposes, leading me to further believe that it was actually Google calling. Suddenly there’s a male voice on the other end of the line. “Who am I speaking with?” He asks.
Feeling giddy all over (after all it is the Great Google calling ME!), suspicion arose when asked what my domain name was and what services are provided. I’m like, you should know this if you’re verifying my Google listing.
The cold caller continues. Well, you’re not on the first page at all. I can’t find you.”
“I most certainly am on the first page for my keywords and keyword phrases that I want”
“Oh!” He says, hangs up and communication is broken.
Who Was That Masked Man?
Then it hit me. That wasn’t Google! That was a someone trying to make me think they were Google and, here’s the kicker. He stated he couldn’t find me. Well, how did he find the number to call? Must have found it somewhere. There have been 5 calls altogether, each time trying to find out more about who is actually calling but, always end up tipping my hand that I’m on to them and they hang up. The point is this. Google does not do cold calling and no one will call from their offices to personally verify your business listing. That is not how Google works.
To verify a business listing, the owner gets a verification post card delivered by postal mail to the physical business address. The owner or listing manager (that would be me) then logs into the associated Google account, enters the PIN numbers in the required field then click to verify. The whole process does not require speaking with anyone. Something else about these scam phone calls is that for years clients have told me about mysterious calls they’ve gotten from Google. I’ve told them the calls weren’t from Google.
Schmoozed by a Scam Artist: The Slaughter
About 4 years ago a client fell for a similar ruse. He was told by these scammers that they could get his business listed in cities where he had no physical presence. His traffic flat lined and he had no phone calls for two weeks. Luckily I caught it one morning about 5:30 am and called him. He had completely disappeared from search. They had put up a generic, unoptimized and juvenile looking landing page instead of the one I built for him and a different phone number for his business where his calls were tracked tracked. When calling the number listed, it said this number is no longer in service. He was schmoozed by a scam con artist that practically ruined his business.
I repaired the damage and he swore to never do that again. He is still a client to this day and business is thriving. It took four weeks to clean up the slaughter and even a nasty call to the slaughterers. I “gave ’em hell for what they done!” [sic] Yes, I’m territorial and fierce about taking care of clients online well being.
In Summary & Conclusion:
If a cold caller will mislead you about who is calling, they won’t be truthful about anything else. Should you get the call and a recording says your Google listing needs verified, know that it is a scam cold call that hooks you first by having you believe it’s the search engine giant on the line. Their verification system is automated so, don’t fall for it. It’s a scam cold call and it’s not Google calling.