BEWARE Call From Google Business Listings is Fake

Over the past several months, we have been receiving robocalls daily from a recorded message claiming that our Google Business Listing may not be claimed or verified. As a digital marketing company that focuses on local SEO, we immediately knew this call was fake. If you stay on the line long enough, this call presents you with 2 options. Option 1 is to speak to someone about your Google Business Listing and option 2 is to be removed from the list. Today, I decided to press 1 and find out more about this shady practice and to find out if they are a scam.

Fake Google Business Listings Call Is A Scam

Once I was connected, a representative asked me to verify that I am the owner of “insert business name here” which was actually a business I ran many years ago with a partner. Even though I no longer am part of this business, I decided to play along to discover more about this call to find out if it is a scam or something else. The representative asked me what type of service we offer and not thinking, I told him we offer “Digital Marketing” services. Immediately he told me that we do not need a Google Business Listing for that type of service.

I decided to push a little more, as I still have not discovered if this was a scam. I asked him directly if this was a scam. He then told me that they are a company which you pay to claim your Google Business Listing. After speaking with him, I did realize they are not a scam in the legal sense, however, they are running a very shady and unethical practice.

This caller never Identifies themselves as Google, however, they never state they’re not Google. Rather, their representatives act as if they are “looking you up in the system” to give you the illusion that you are talking to someone at Google. Once they find your Google Business Listing is not claimed, they will then proceed to sell you a service to claim your listing for you. Unfortunately, I could not get to this point to find out how much they were charging or discover their true identity.

These companies claim to be a Google Authorized group that can claim your listing. This is not true. Anyone can claim their listing, no group is “Google Authorized” to claim your listings.

Protect Yourself From Non-Legitimate Phone Calls From Google

Google has created a page about this phone call from Google Business Listings to help you understand how to spot them. From time to time, Google may call you to verify your business or confirm business listings. This is something they will do, however, they do provide these items that Google does not do.

Google does NOT:

  • Charge you for inclusion in Google My Business or Google Search. It is free to add your site for both of these.
  • Offer to improve your search ranking or manage your business’s online profile. If you are interested in this type of service, Data Driven Labs offers Local Search Optimization packages.
  • Ask you for your password or verification code. THIS IS IMPORTANT! Never give this information to anyone who calls you. Google will never need this information.
  • Place robocalls.

Google provides a page of information on current scams that are running including telemarketing scams.

Who Are They

First, realize, these companies are not Google. These type of calls, known as robocalls, are illegal in the United States as defined by the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. Google has nothing to do with them. These are unethical “marketing” companies that are trying to sell you marketing plans for verification packages. While selling services to help companies claim their listings is a legitimate service, the approach these companies take is what makes this unethical.

Google has even gone as far as filing a lawsuit against one of these unethical “marketing” companies. The suit is still working itself out, but, the suit claims that the marketing company is making false or misleading claims during the sales process to confuse consumers into believing there is some type of relationship between them and Google.

Update 9/27/2017: We received another call and were able to gather additional information. They stated that they are a Google Authorized group who will take down your information and claim your listing as Google only works with Fortune 500 companies and that Google has authorized companies such as them to work with small and medium-sized businesses. When I asked the name of their company, they told us a fake name of “PDS a Google Listings Authorized Company”. When I asked what “PDS” stood for, they would not say.

Be aware, this is not true. You can claim your listing on your own. Google will even deal with you via their support system, regardless of the size of your business.

Update 2/6/2018: Today we received a call from another company. She quickly claimed that our listing had become unlisted in February of 2016 (not true) and is scheduled for deletion (again another lie). I asked her if they are Google just to see if they would lie here. She did say they are not Google but a “Google Certified Partner”. I then asked the name of the company, she stated their name was “Local Listings”. After some further digging on the call, I was able to get her to admit she was with a company out of Cedar City, Utah.

Please realize, this company is not calling on behalf of Google. They are very careful in how they disguise themselves just skirting past the law. The fact I had to push to get their real name shows they know their service is not ethical. In the Google product forms, we found one user who had this lie told to them:

I received a call today from “Company Name” informing me that my business has been flagged for removal. They told me that I must pay a “lifetime fee” of $359.00 to keep my business listing active.

This is not true. Google will not require you to pay for your Google Business Listing to remain active. Your Google listing is free and can be managed and optimized by you, the business owner at no cost.

What Should You Do?

Don’t Hire Them!

First, do not pay these companies a dime. They are not affiliated with Google and are only selling you a product that you can do for free on your own. Instead, claim your own listing through Google and then optimize the listing yourself. It is a very simple process and does not require much work on your part. In addition, the listing is now claimed under your own Google account giving you full control of it. Once claimed, your listing will not expire, contrary to what these scam calls will suggest. Your listing will stay claimed and if you have any issues, you can contact Google directly through their support channels.

Report Them!

First, try to stop the calls from coming in. We suggest adding your business to the National Do Not Call List. All legitimate telemarketing companies are supposed to check their call list agist the National Do Not Call List and remove your number from their calling list. If they continue to call once you have added yourself to the list, file a complaint with the National Do Not Call List. This may not stop them, however, it does notify the FTC of these calls.

Second, ask to be removed from their list and to not contact you again. Again, this only works sometimes as they do not always follow through.

Third, warn others. Many of these company continue to operate because nobody else knows about this scam. Share this article with others or write your own blog post or social media message to share with other business owners. If you are part of a local chamber or business group, take a few minutes to speak to other members and warn them of this scam. There are other sites online where you can report scams such as the BBB and others. File a complaint with these types of sites to help warn others.

Leave A Comment Below

We would love to hear about your experience and understand how this scam evolves. Because legitimate marketing companies could be confused with this scam, we ask that you not use the business name.

Update: We have removed all identifiable company names & phone numbers from the comments below. Please do not post names, just your experience. 

Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. Total Scam Alert – – – Our company too, received a call from this number *** stating that they were with PDS, who subcontracts with Google for verifying small business’ google listings. The floor manager by the name of John would not provide much more information about the name of their company PDS, or give me a call back number or website to verify who they were or what they do. I believe that this number is coming from a malicious group who are looking to steal data from small business or individuals. I too agree that this business is unethical.

    This comment has been edited to remove identifiable information.

      • Got a call today from ****. Life time google listing at discount for $359. Thank you for your article!!!!!

        This comment has been edited to remove identifiable information.

    • Same here – was told to call James at ***. We really just need out google map address fixed and they said they could fix it if we verifried our business account with google for $199 one time fee. James got rather animated when I mentioned that I just need him to send me the information and I would pass it on to our marketing people to take care of it. Glad I found this article as our marketing team is rather new and would have likely just paid the fee. Company said their name was ***** when they picked up the phone – thought that strange that they didn’t answer as Google.

      This comment has been edited to remove identifiable information.

  2. Same here in NY. All the lady would tell me is that her company name is PDS, and when I pushed for further information such as their address or details, she simply hung up. How can we get them to stop calling us?

    • Getting them to stop calling is difficult. They should have a way for you to request to be removed from their list, however, because they are skirting by the law and some are even breaking the law, they don’t always offer up a way out. If you can locate their actual company, you can file a complaint, however, since they are hiding this information, it is difficult.

      • Just spent 10 minutes with someone claiming to work with Google (no caller ID, so don’t know phone number). It was on wings of robo-call saying “Do not hang up…” but was in gullible mood, I suppose. Was connected with someone who, while having tell-tale salesman’s edge, seemed to want to get my business site all squared-away, as, coincidentally I’d had problems verifying myself as business owner with Google.

        It was only after 10 minutes that I learned of “one-time $199 lifetime fee” and was suddenly disabused of notion person was possible legit. Then I googled google business scams and found you. Thanks for helping alert people.

        • Wow…I got the same ‘one-time $199 lifetime fee’ I called google to find if there was a way I could do this for free and then found out it’s the only way to do it…because they don’t offer that service.

          Google Rep: ‘Ma’am, are you sure the person you spoke with was from google?’

          Me: Yeah…wait…

          Google Rep: ‘Yes…it sounds like a scam.’

  3. Just dealt with these people. I asked for name of company they gave me name, I asked for address and she got belligerent that i was asking to many questions. Her name was Leah and wow did she get feisty in a flash. we receive multiple calls like these every day. using Googles name in the first few seconds of a robo call is wrong. I hung up on her as she elevated the tone extra fast. can’t believe some people what a shady fear based way to make a buck.

    • Thanks for your comment. Yes, they get very upset with you. We had another one today, when I asked if they were Google, they said they are a Google Certified Partner for Business Listings (FYI, Google has Certified partners for Analytics and Adwords, not business listings). When I asked the name she said “Local Listings” I asked out of where and she said Utah. I then said I can’t find them online and she said their DBA is out of Cedar City, Utah.

  4. How do I get them to stop calling?! I have blocked there number. I have pressed two to be taken off their call list. They call over and over and over again at my office. Sometimes only fifteen minutes later. They keep calling from a different number once I block them or press #2. I am so annoyed with this company. They are spamming me over the phone and I can’t get them to stop.

    • Unfortunately, there does not seem to be a way to fully stop them. They are breaking the law by robocalling you to start, so, there is no legal way to stop them. Cellphone providers are working on a solution to block robocalls, however, they have not rolled it out due to some FTC regulations. There are a few robocall blocking apps that do a pretty good job. This was how I decreased mine, however, I still get a decent bit.

  5. I receive at least 10 calls per day at my business, I had the one number memorized as to not answer it, but now they use different numbers randomly all day long. I spoke with a “Supervisor”. He gave me a address to fix it. Yeah, its not fixed. 5 robocalls so far today and the day isn’t over yet.

  6. ****** in New York has not stopped calling our business, despite multiple phone calls and asking to be removed from the call list. If you get bored one day, here is there phone number: ***-***-****… maybe after spamming them, they might get the hint!

    This comment has been edited to remove identifiable information.

    • I fell for the scam with a rep….she offered me to go on join.me to do a online meeting after i paid 150$ for google listing…..ill do a chargeback….

      I didnt go on join me after reading this

  7. A lot of these people are calling, when asking and being told to be removed from the list they say fine but they keep calling. Colorado is a state where only one party has to be aware that the call is being recorded. Some of these I have been able to capture with my cell phone and Leah is a caller as well. You can tell it’s a fairly large operation due the amount of other voices you can hear in the background. Here’s some information I have asked to help further this issue.
    1. When pressed for an actual Federal Tax ID to track their business through the attorney general they refuse.
    2. When asking for an address to send a formal Cease and Desist to, they state they have no physical address and are satellite offices.
    3. When asked for a corporate address they state they are not allowed to give that information out.
    4. When asked for an Employee ID they say a random number 1-10 so far. I haven’t gotten one higher than that.
    5. They call multiple times and it’s a robo call. The number you call back has often been spoofed to lead to a disconnected number or some poor blokes cell phone.
    6. This takes a while but the best way to get these folks to stop calling or at least reduce the number of calls is speak with them for 5 minutes or longer ask random silly questions and make random stuff up about your business. Waste their time and eventually the stats they run they stop calling. I am just guessing at this but this is what I can surmise from my experience as an analyst. Anything over a 60-90 second call is recorded and marked down as spoken with. If nothing is closed and money is not obtained they will try again. If the pattern repeats multiple times with no money obtained they are now wasting dialer calls and time for agents. 3 minutes is equal to roughly 8 calls or more that the agent can go through. Eventually they will stop. We have gone from 5-8 calls a day to maybe 1 now.

  8. HI–we have been receiving at least 10 or more calls a day by numerous phone numbers claiming we need to verify our google listing. Just had one a few minutes ago. I actually pressed 1 to see what he said. Pretty much what you had described. Asked if i had a credit card i wanted to use to pay the fee of $379. I told him no and to put me on the “do not call list”. He also acted like he was looking up our google listing and told me that all of our competitors were coming up but not us. Ha Ha–i got on computer after that and googled glass repair and lo and behold there we were. I can believe they keep getting away with this. The calls are getting annoying to say the least.

  9. I get calls from different numbers constantly asking me to verify my business listing. I got tired of hanging up on these folks. So I spoke to the guy. I realize that I am an independent insurance associate. I have an office downtown but my mail goes to my house. I gave them the correct address information that Id like my business address to be shown and not the mailing address which is residential. After that I was transferred to a 2nd person to type and verify my changes in my google listing. I was told that in order to update my information. There was a 1 time fee of $399 today for a lifetime fee. After the fee, I would never be contacted or asked to pay again. I said that is too much, and he promises to give me a discount. Asking could I pay $249. I said I can’t do that without looking over everything carefully. He then proceeded to knock the fee down to $199 today only. I told him please send me the information to look over carefully and I will call you back. He said he would send me an email with a link to the ad.. But he still needed a payment now. Also, he indicated that there was no way for me to call him back. I said forget it, and hung up. That’s too much pressure. If it was legitimate, a company would not demand immediate payment now for advertisement. There would be information to send out and a time frame for payment. After the call, I searched for google business ad verification and your website popped up. I’m certain that it was a scam. Thank goodness I hung up on the man.

  10. I have been getting numerous calls a week at our business. I’ve had so many calls saying I NEED TO VERIFY MY BUSINESS. I finally took a call from a rep who called personally to advise me that she needed me to verify my business. It would be a one time fee of $189. for the business. She forwarded me Verification code that I was to call her back with the number so she could update our business listing. It turns out it is a company called ******. So far the information is less correct than the one I paid to Brand-Rep in 2016. Never could get that listing corrected at a cost of $295.95 US and $195.95 US a month for a minimum of 3 months and they took the money for six months before I catch on. How many more business are going to get scammed.

    This comment has been edited to remove identifiable information.

  11. After getting many calls per week i talked to them to see what it was all about. they represented themselves as Google and got my info. I had to ask twice to get the charge card recpt and when i did it was not from google, but from A-1 Merchants in Genmont NY. I am cancelling the charge and now not going to take any more calls from “google”

  12. Just got the call today. I pried for a callback numbernsomi could verify them. They danced around. Eventually forwarded me to a supervisor (guy calls me “rick”. I said no. He says to his phine guy “oh you said he’s a prick”). Lol. Obviously not legitimate if thats his idea of trying to secure a customer. Pried lots got some kl marketing name. Then he said i “wasn’t a buyer for their services”. I agreed and we both hung up.

  13. Just got off the phone from a guy who said my Google account was temporary, and would soon be deleted from Google. Really!? And for a fee of between $199-$299 I could get this fixed. I’m finding out those were cheep numbers. Another business owner in the area fell for it and paid over $800. I told him I would take my chances that Google was going to drop my account.

  14. The number that called me was ***. The ID says cellular call. (We don’t look at Caller ID when we answer and use it as a resource if there is a problem.) I received a call stating that after multiple attempts to verify our business, it was at a critical stage (robocall). I had some time so I pressed the 1 to verify. I first spoke with Takisha (sp?) who had most of our information already and mentioned that our Google business listing was unclaimed. It was difficult to hear her due to the background noise. I suspected that this might be a scam, but wanted to see how far it would go. Once asking for five key words for our listing, she said that she would transfer me to the verification area who would then tell me what my one time (lifetime) fee would be based on our key words. She stated that she did not have access to that information. I was transferred to Jennifer who informed me that the one-time, lifetime fee for our business would be $349.95 and offered to email a receipt to me. I told her that it was not in my budget as a small non-profit and I would have to talk with my officers. She asked when she could call back. I informed her she could try me next week. We’ll see if she calls back. After I hung up, I did some internet searches and found this article, as well as how to directly claim my business on Google. I verified my business through Google and received my code. Thank you for this article.

  15. The Company Name is ***

    Ps. They are all a Scam Did this for 3 years Worked for them and 4 other Companies did the same thing, all hire drug addicts that come to south fl. for recover say they will pay your rent just make sales and filter calls till you have a sucker on the line. Owners names are pat, rob, mike, jeff.

    This comment has been edited to remove identifiable information.

  16. I received a call on May 15, 2018 around 9:30 a.m. EST from ***. The recording claimed I have not claimed my Google business listing, yet I already have claimed and verified it. I pressed 1 to speak to a representative. Cody answered. I asked him for his company name, and he said ***. When asked if he worked for Google he said no. When I asked him how to log in to my business account, he said it was too hard to explain how to do it. Then he hung up. I called back, but that number does not ring.

    This comment has been edited to remove identifiable information.

  17. If you list your business on the actual Google Business page, you will get hard copies of stuff in the mail with codes where they will then ask you to confirm it online. I had 1 call from them (Google actual) and they referenced the stuff I had gotten in the mail from them, along with the sticker for the window of the business.

    So for others coming here, Google *may* call you to verify info you’ve entered (like your phone number), but they won’t ask for money nor will they use the shady practices listed above.

  18. Just found out today that my business partner had been dealing with “Google” for approx. two months now and she explained that a “Certified Google Manager” at this company was trying to “get our business on Google” and get us onto the first page of Google search results. My partner had already paid $150 by credit card for “getting our business on Google”. First off, I “got our business on Google” two years ago myself, and pay for a Google Ad monthly. I was suspicious, so my partner gets our so-called Certified Google Manager to call me. My first question was (1) Do you work for Google or some other company A: Some other (marketing) company. Then he explained he had been working with my business partner for 2+ months and that *he/they had got our business on Google*. (Outright lie). Then, while on the phone, he searched “our business type” in “our city” and told me how bad our search rank was. I explained to said scammer person that our business is highly location dependent and can only serve a small service area “aka radius” around our operating location. The idea that he thought we needed to be first on “business type” in “our city” showed he had no clue how to market our company. On relevant search terms I have investigated, my company shows up along with only 2 others businesses in a 10 mile radius. Also, we’re on page 1 of search results (and map search results) when a “near me” search or location limited search is performed. We have a number of great Google reviews, and most new customers tell me they “found us on Google”. This company did NONE of this – it was already in place. These guys are out of New York and have a range of hundreds of sequential numbers. Now I’m upset because I tore into my business partner who was only trying to help.

    • It’s scary how bad they trick you into thinking they work for Google. It’s funny, they makeup the term of “Certified Google Manager” or say they are a “Certified Google My Business Professional”. Neither of those exists. Google offers certification for their AdWords (PPC) and Analytics services but not for Google My Business. I am glad you were able to stop this process before you were scammed. Educate other business owners and spread the word to help protect others.

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AUTHOR

Chris Edwards

Chris is Co-Owner of Data Driven Labs and a 17-year internet marketing expert in web design & development, SEO, digital marketing, and analytics. He often speaks at conferences around the world on everything WordPress and analytics.

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