When I first started managing websites, a client once called me in panic. He told me that he had received a letter from someone that said he owed them several hundred dollars for submitting his website to search engines. Even though I was an online marketing beginner, I was pretty sure that the Internet didn’t work this way. I went to my client’s office where he showed me the letter. It was a crude looking invoice that said the charges were for “submitting your website to Google, Bing, and Yahoo”. After I assured my client that it was a scam, I did some investigating. I looked up the return address and found out it was for a storage lot near Niagara Falls. I called the owner of the storage lot and he seemed just as confused as I was. Either way, I let it go and told all my other clients to disregard letters like this.
Since then, I’ve noticed a lot of scammers taking advantage of people’s ignorance. When it comes to scams related to search engines, it usually involves trying to get people to pay money for services that are free.
What To Do About Google Robocalls?
In the last few months, our office has gotten numerous robocalls saying that our Google listing is unverified and we should press 1 to speak to a rep who can help us solve this problem. If this was from a legitimate company, they probably would have noticed that our listing is indeed verified and that we operate Spider Gourmet, an SEO company that specializes in this sort of thing.
At first, I just hung up when I got these calls. But then they became more numerous so I decided to do something about it. The next time I got a Google listing robocall, I pressed the option to speak to a rep. I asked him “Do you know that you’re calling an SEO company?” He feigned ignorance. I asked him politely, but firmly, to stop calling us. He got defensive and said I was being disrespectful. Not wanting to hear any more nonsense, I hung up on him. In the next few weeks, we still got several more of these calls but they eventually stopped.
Now, I’m a SEO professional and was able to know when I was being lied to. However, not everyone else is in this position. Our clients have also complained that they have also been receiving these calls. Many of my friends have also asked me about these calls as well. This enrages me because Google My Business (the service that handles your Google listing) is and has always been a free service. If you are going to pay to have an SEO company do it for you, it should be a company you know and trust, not one that relies on unsolicited robocalls. These companies using Google’s name are trying to get business, or worse, trying to steal personal information.
Recently, Google has taken notice of these robocalls:
“This year, we’ve received hundreds of complaints from users about illegal robocalls they’ve received from callers claiming to be affiliated with Google. They often promote misleading offers for improving users Google My Business profiles or search ranking. These calls are not from Google, and we’re making sure our clients know how to report them. Should you ever receive this type of call, you can report them directly here.”
To further help users, Google has set up a place to report these robocalls. If you receive one of these calls, be sure to write down anything about the call, such as the phone number, the company name, and any other identifiable information. Then fill out this form. By each of us doing our part, we can work together to put a stop to this dishonest practice.