We’ve all had it happen to us at one point in our lives; a deal too good to be true, a stranger that was just too nice. And there is a name for those people — scammers! Scammers have been around for a long time, and will continue to operate in their shady ways if there are people and businesses around to scam. Often, if you have an online business, these scammers appear in the form of 3rd party companies claiming to be from Google and claiming they can improve your search ranking (or offer services that Google already provides for free). Not only is this frustrating for small business owners, but Google isn’t too happy about it either.
What is Google doing to prevent scammers?
Scammers are bad for your business, and when they claim to be representing Google, they are bad for Google’s business as well. This is why Google has implemented a number of safeguards, and continually monitors the online business world to ensure they can combat any new scams that appear. These include, but are not limited to:
- Google being diligent in updating their policies.
- Removing accounts tied to scams, or limiting their capabilities.
- Offering tools to help you report violations.
- Educating: Google speakers are available to educate and empower small business owners on how to avoid frauds and scams.
- And of course, there is the Google My Business Program; a directory of trusted Google partners (like Strathcom Media).
What can you do to protect yourself and your business?
Google has your back, but you’ve got to be persistent yourself. Your intuition is often correct, and if something seems suspicious it deserves a closer look. After all, you don’t want to give all your hard earned money to some fake Nigerian prince.
- Be diligent! Verify any sources that offer to “help”. Sometimes this is as easy as requesting an email – remember any Google employee will have a valid @google.com address.
- Be Informed. Understand that there is no way to guarantee, request, or pay for better Search Engine Marketing. A company can walk you through their approach, even show you results they’ve achieved in the past. But assume that any promise made regarding search rankings can and will be broken.
- Hang up! Don’t follow any directions to press a key to speak to a representative. Any business worth working with won’t make you jump through suspicious hoops to obtain their service.
- Report suspicious activity, and contact Google, the FTC, or the FCC, to report a scam. Trust your intuition, you’ve worked too hard on your small business to allow someone to take your money.
- Register! You can both claim your Google My Business account, as well as registering your phone number with the National Do Not Call Registry at 1-888-382-1222.
Small businesses are a crucial part of our economy, and fraud shouldn’t get in the way of helping them grow. Here at Strathcom Media we’re committed to protecting our users, and actively combating scams that take advantage of small businesses.