Hijacked Google My Business Listings On The Rise

by Joy Hawkins, Local University
Nov 6, 2020

In the last couple of months, we’re seeing a large increase in the number of Google My Business listings that are getting hijacked. A hijack is when a malevolent user gets a hold of a listing that they don’t own and changes the core information on it to something that they can benefit from.

For example, weeks ago, this listing was called “Car Accident Lawyer Rosenberg” and the phone number on it led to a phone tree that sells leads to personal injury lawyers.

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After reporting it to Google My Business via the Redressal Form it returned to its original state. The increase in this type of spam likely explains why we’re also seeing an increase in the number of suspensions.

How are users hijacking these listings?​

There are a number of sketchy tactics that these people utilize. These people have been at it for years and every time Google cracks down on the tactic they’re using, they come up with a new one. Hijacking just appears to be the latest thing that’s “working”.

One of the ways I believe that someone can effectively hijack a listing is to request access to it via the “claim this business” label that appears in the Knowledge Panel. We are seeing a huge increase in the number of complaints from users that are getting requests to manage their listing from people they don’t recognize. This thread on the GMB forum about the issue has over 80 responses. The issue has been brought up to Google several times.

If you get one of these emails, my recommendation is to simply delete it. Also, it’s a very good idea not to have tons of managers on your Google My Business listing. Having more users increases the likeliness that one of them could accidentally click it and give an unauthorized party control of your business listing.

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Joy Hawkins


@JoyHawkins is the owner of Sterling Sky in Canada and is the author of the Expert’s Guide to Local SEO, which is an advanced training manual for people wanting a detailed look at what it takes to succeed in the Local SEO space. She has been working in the industry since 2006. She has a monthly column on Search Engine Land and enjoys speaking regularly at marketing conferences such as SMX, LocalU and State of Search. You can find her on Twitter or volunteering as a Top Contributor on the Google My Business Forum.



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djbaxter

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Google My Business Listings Hijacking

by Barry Schwartz, Search Engine Roundtable
Nov 9, 2020

Joy Hawkins, a local SEO expert, has said she has seen a "large increase" in the number of hijacked Google My Business listings over the past couple of months. There is this large Google My Business Help thread with almost a hundred posts in it about hackers trying to obtain ownership of their business listings.

The first complaint dates back several months ago and reads:

I've been receiving suspicious emails to my Gmail account, alerting me that "Someone has requested ownership of My Business on Google My Business." I've reviewed and declined the requests, but they persist using different accounts.

How can I prevent these daily attempts? Thank you!

If you get one of these emails, do not respond, just delete it Joy said. Joy added "Also, it’s a very good idea not to have tons of managers on your Google My Business listing. Having more users increases the likeliness that one of them could accidentally click it and give an unauthorized party control of your business listing."

If someone hijacks your listing, they can change your phone number, email, etc and have all your leads from Google go to them, instead of you. Joy said "For example, weeks ago, this listing was called “Car Accident Lawyer Rosenberg” and the phone number on it led to a phone tree that sells leads to personal injury lawyers."

Please be careful and tell your customers to be aware.

Forum discussion at Local Search Forums and Google My Business Help.
 

ABuck

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Wouldn't it be better to respond to the email denying the request? If the email is ignored, don't you run the risk of having Google give access to the hijacker?
 

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