You receive a phone call, a strange call, and still yet a very familiar call. It's "Google" calling and they're here to help you! How many of you have received this call numerous times? How many of you were experienced enough to know that it wasn't Google?
We have a new client whose online affairs are a little out of sorts, he received this call and he wasn't hip to the jive. We've been in the process of getting everything straightened out but he has found himself in a bit of a bind.
A few months before meeting us he apparently received a strange phone call. The caller explained they were contacting him to verify his online Google listing. Without a second thought our client cooperated with the caller. Many are you are fooled by the notion that the billion-dollar-giant Google is taking the time to call your company to provide you with a better way of being listed. We'd all like to imagine Google as a benevolent good Samaritan spending its time looking for ways to help the meek - but Google is more like an 18th-century French aristocrat trampling on bourgeois peasant's necks as they lay in the muddy gutter of a French street. "Let them eat cake!" Seriously, they don't go out of their way for individuals.
Based on the details our client has provided this is what we've determined must have transpired:
The caller looked up our client online and probably found his contact info through a local online directory. Our client is a local contractor. For some reason these types of businesses are popular targets - probably because they're very busy and many are not tech and web-savvy.
Next, the caller then located our client's unclaimed Google Plus business listing and initiated the process of claiming that business listing.
Claiming a listing requires a verification either by snail mail in which case a postcard containing a PIN is mailed to the business address or an automated phone call which is placed to the business phone number containing the PIN. The person attempting to claim the listing chooses which type of verification to use.
In this case, the caller obviously chose to use phone verification.
The caller contacted our client, explained they were calling from Google to verify his online listing, and asked him to provide them with the PIN he would be receiving via phone message. Of course, it is ironic that Google would be calling and then asking you for a pin number - shouldn't they already have access and any information needed? Of course! Why would Google need a Google PIN from you?! Whoops!
What would you do if a "Visa" rep called and explained "Hi, i'm calling from Visa to verify your account - please provide me with your account number, routing number, security code, and PIN please." Come on now.
Our client - naturally assuming it would be good to verify his listing - retrieved the PIN and shared it with the caller over the phone.
Following this, the caller then entered the PIN and claimed our client's listing.
Next, the caller explained that the listing was now verified and then offered to sell the listing to our client for several hundred dollars! Confused, our client asked why he has to pay for a free listing. Of course our client did not pay the caller for the listing, but now his listing is being held hostage. We're going to take the necessary steps to recover ownership of this listing on behalf of our client, but it's a silly mess that isn't always easy to clean up.
To be clear, Google doesn't really call anybody, certainly not to verify free listings for small businesses. If somebody is calling saying they're from Google it is a scam, just tell them not to contact you ever again and hang up. There is no need to rush to claim such listings anyway, it is your listing and you're the only who can claim it.
We are a local company and we too receive these calls every few weeks, sometimes a flurry of daily calls and sometimes weeks of no contacts - there are variations on the scam as well, its not always to verify Google Plus listings. Just to see what happens, we've played along for a bit to try to see what the caller is up to. Eventually we start asking too many questions about what they're up to, and then when they realize that we know they're game and that they've been caught they quickly hang up.
At first they're very open and inviting, but no matter how dumb we try to play it they are smart enough to figure out our angle and they quickly hung up.
They're are a lot of faceless creeps hanging around in Internetland preying on the ingornace of people who are just too busy to take a moment to educate themselves on issues such as these. Because there is so much anonymity online, years ago we decided to make ourselves one of the only web companies that we know of where you can walk in the door and ask us any questions. Unfortunately, people still run off like sheeps to slaughter. It gets very tough to hear about people getting scammed instead of coming to visit us.
In addition to 24/7 support for our clients we are available to the general public from Monday to Friday between 9am to 5pm at our Main St. storefront office in Ventura,CA. It is important to be able to meet with people face to face so they know who they're dealing with and that they can trust us as a well-established, legitimate company.
Don't get scammed by some of the shady people lurking in Internetland. Call or visit our office if you're not sure about something. We offer free advice and consultations and we'll only charge you if we're sure that we can help you. Email info@TheFinalCode.com or call 805-243-8321 next time the mystery man offers to "help" you for free.