About the only thing worse than having no online presence or a bad online reputation, is falling prey to a false expert or a scammer that takes your money and makes things worse.
Recently, there have been a rash of telemarketers targeting drycleaners (and other businesses) calling to say that they will report your business as closed permanently and have your Google My Business page removed unless you sign up for their service or pay a fee.
One of my clients received such a call, and called me right away. I assured my client that he had nothing to worry about because his Google My Business page had been set up properly, and if anyone tried to report his business as closed and have his GMB page removed, he would receive a notification from Google confirming closure of the business BEFORE Google would act and remove the GMB page associated with the business. Well, my client did not pay the requested extortion, and sure enough, the scammers tried reporting his business as closed to Google. Google’s confirmation procedures kicked in and worked as they are supposed to, my client received an e-mail message asking/confirming his business was closed or not. My client responded his business was most definitely open, and Google did not remove the GMB page. The system worked.
But, if your GMB page is not set up properly with notifications NOT going to the right place, you could miss the notification, and have your page deleted. Not that would be an insurmountable problem, you simply rebuild the page. It’s the time and inconvenience, and that is exactly what the scammers prey upon. Scammers hope you are uneducated enough to respond and pay. Sad fact is, there are a lot of folks who simply pay because they don’t know any better.
Another scam that is rising in occurrence when a so-called accredited expert contacts you advising you that there are errors preventing your web site to be found, errors in listing of your web site, increase SEO standings of your web site, get you more reviews, or even eliminate bad reviews, all under the guise that they or their firm is a ‘marketing partner’ of Google.
A client of mine was contacted by one of these so-called accredited experts. This scammer was a real sales professional, using all the right terminology, and he had his sales pitch at excellent level. Thankfully, my client had forwarded me the e-mail that he had received. Within the e-mail message was a link that looked legitimate.
GOOGLE BUSINESS ADVERTISING
This might be good enough to fool some of the people, and if you are in a hurry, just give it a passing glance. But, there is a problem, this link only links to Google’s partner page. A REAL Google Partner is provided a badge that links directly to their page on the Google Partner System. The legitimate badge looks like this:
In fact, you can search anyone claiming to be a Google Partner at this link:
In the upper right corner, there is a search box:
Simply type in the name of the company, and if they are in fact a Google Partner, they will come up in the search. If they are not found in the search, you should be asking questions.
Fake experts and fraudsters can do a lot of damage. Not only will they take your money, they could abscond with your brand, and a significant part of your online presence. A simple check can be worth hours of aggravation. A little healthy skepticism can be a good thing. Do a little due diligence and be sure.