Let me ask you a question: how much did you pay Google for your Business Profile? Unfortunately, if the answer was anything other than “nothing,” you’ve been scammed. Google has actually announced that they are taking legal action against scammers who impersonated the company in order to defraud small businesses.
Let’s examine what Google said in their announcement, and what it means your business should be doing.
Google is Going After Scammers Trying to Charge Businesses for Business Profiles
First of all, a Google Business Profile is completely free for business owners to claim and use to share information about their organization. That’s just a fact.
Therefore, if someone calls you and claims to be Google, offering to assist you with your Business Profile for a fee, they are attempting to scam you.
This problem has gotten bad enough that Google is actively stepping in as a part of its ongoing efforts against scams. Their theory is that, by publicizing these scams and taking legal action against them, they are both deterring would-be scammers and raising awareness with the public about these threats. According to Google’s blog post about these kinds of scams, they were able to stop 12 million scammers from creating fake Business Profiles, and another 8 million attempts to fraudulently claim Business Profiles.
Let’s be clear—Google charges you absolutely nothing to create a business profile on their search platform. Why would they? Creating one is mutually beneficial for you and them. On your end, you make it easier for clients to find and learn more about your business, and on Google’s end, their search engine becomes that much more useful for searchers. That’s a win-win!
So, if “Google” ever reaches out to you and attempts to sell you a Business Profile, it’s pretty clearly a phishing scam—a scam where an attacker pretends to be someone else.
How to Spot Phishing Scams
Make no mistake: phishing scams can appear to come from anyone…Google, your mother-in-law, one of your vendors, the government. Fortunately, there are a few core best practices that you can follow that help you to catch these attempts.
Watch for Urgency: Keep an eye out for emotional language, particularly when it supposedly comes from a business entity. Urgency is a basic tool that a scammer will use to put you in an emotional, irrational state. Don’t let them fool you.
Check the Details: So, “Google” reaches out to tell you that you should pay for their assistance in setting up your Business Profile. Don’t hesitate to look up the Google Business Profile page (which, incidentally, clearly states that the Business Profile is free) to confirm (or, in this case, deny) the claims you’re being pitched.
Don’t Give Them the Satisfaction: If you’ve confirmed that a message or a call is a scam, just end the conversation. If it was legitimate, the person will probably understand that you were just doing your due diligence for cybersecurity.
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