Wow. I just got off the phone with a client who received a very interesting call from “Google.” First, the caller asked to verify his business information in Google, which he agreed to and confirmed that their information was correct. Then the caller stated that, in order to keep his business listed in Google, the business owner needed to pay a one-time fee of $600, but that they were able to discount it to $400. This would guarantee that he could be in the top three spots on Google for “optometrist” searches in his area, and guaranteed that his business would be listed in Google forever.
As he told me the story, I gasped and asked, “You didn’t pay them, did you!?” knowing right away that it was an SEO scam.
I am so thankful that he thought to ask lots of questions, and that he was pretty certain this was a scam. I wanted to relay the story to others to make sure that business owners are aware of what some of these mysterious scammers will say to try and get your credit card information. I also want to let you know that you can call us any time and ask about the validity of calls like this. We’re happy to help!
First of all, you will never have to pay for Google to list your business in their search engine. There are some advertising options like paid advertising to appear at the top and on the right side of Google search pages, but those are in addition to your business listing. Google does a pretty good job of getting business information entered, and you can help this process by claiming your Google+ business page. Even if you didn’t claim your page, Google would still have your business information listed. Think of it this way: it’s a search engine. It wants to have all of the best information for people who are searching. Just like the regular pages of a phone book, all of the business listings are included for free, with premium options for advertising.
Second, Google will never call you and ask if you want to pay (or claim that you have to pay) for any kind of listing. There are Google AdWords Certified businesses that may call and see if you want to hire them to run your AdWords campaigns, and they will attempt to get you that premium placement on Google search pages, but that is completely optional and not actually Google. Even if a business can say they’re “Google-certified,” they are not actually Google. SEO scam callers frequently claim they’re Google to try and sound legitimate. Of course they are not.
Finally, if we are ever doing something with your website, Google, or Facebook listing that requires your approval, or have any questions at all about billing or private information for your business, we will call you directly. Even then, if you get a call from Innexus (or our parent company, the marketing agency Innereactive Media), we will identify ourselves as that, and it will come from one of our contact numbers. You’re more than welcome to ask for our name, and then call us back just to make sure that you are speaking to us, and not someone from a random number pretending to be one of our staff.
Be very careful about giving out your information, especially your credit card. If you ever have questions, call us. If we’re not immediately available, leave a message and we will return your call as soon as possible. If someone claims that something will happen to your business listing or social account, say that you’re going to speak to your marketing specialist and get back to them. Get as much of their contact information as possible. If it is a real inquiry, of course you will be able to get back in touch, but if it isn’t, then you will have something to use to report this fraudulent activity.
We’re happy to hear about new and creative scams so that we can help advise other clients, so feel free to send us a message or write a comment if you’ve had one lately!