Linda Buquet

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This post from LinkNow! Media raises some important issues. Hope they don't mind me copying their post in full, but it's important to get the word out for a few reasons.

I mean we all know about some of the scammy companies that try shady stuff to get new clients, but there are a couple nuances I had not thought of. So see my comments under the quote.

Google Places Fraud Alert - LinkNow! Media

Last Thursday, our Customer Care Department received a call from a client who had been contacted by a company named Futurology. The Futurology representative had told him that his Google Places Listing (the listing that we manage for him), was not “VALIDATED”. Understandably, the client who was paying us good money to help him optimize and promote his listing was quite alarmed. The rep then proceeded to tell him that they would request a NEW PIN from Google and that once he received it he should call them and provide the PIN so that they could “manage his listing”. Our Customer Care agent called the toll-free number for Futurology where the representative that answered the phone told her that since the “Manage This Listing” link was still present that the listing had not been “validated”. This is, of course, 100% untrue.

Listings can be reclaimed any number of times as long as you are in possession of the correct PIN which expires after each use. If a new PIN is generated and entered into Google Places you are able to then gain control of the listing. Had the client not called us and followed the advice of this rep then Futurology would have gained complete control of the listing to do with whatever they wanted. With a little bit of digging we were able to uncover that our client was not the only person that had received this type of call. Here they are on RipOffReport.com: Ripoff Report | Futurology | Complaint Review: 991409. Be aware that once you provide your Google PIN to any company, especially one that you aren’t currently doing business with, you are placing your Google Places listing in serious jeopardy.

Is a new wave of Google Places fraud on the horizon? It is very easy to imagine how this could be used to blackmail/scam the business owners after they claim their listings.

We have also encountered clients who have received actual PIN numbers from Google along with a URL where they could navigate to on the internet and enter the “Google PIN”, once done they arrive at an “unlock screen” where they are asked to input their credit card information to validate their Google Places listing. Again, since the client has already provided their PIN in the previous form, whether or not they elect to input their credit card information is basically a moot point because the website already has gained access to the Google Places listing in the previous screen. They are then free to with whatever they wish with the listing including ransom it back to the rightful owner.

The bottom line here is that with the increased prominence of Google Places and the clear presence of fraud, business owners need to be as careful with their Places listings as they would with their corporate credit card number.

So the 1st thing that jumped out at me is that, the bottom feeders that really don't know anything about G+ Local and are just trying to scam folks, probably don't realize listings are already claimed because they still show the manage this page message.

The 2nd part that jumped out at me was: "We have also encountered clients who have received actual PIN numbers from Google along with a URL where they could navigate to on the internet and enter the “Google PIN”, once done they arrive at an “unlock screen” where they are asked to input their credit card information to validate their Google Places listing. Again, since the client has already provided their PIN in the previous form, whether or not they elect to input their credit card information is basically a moot point because the website already has gained access to the Google Places listing in the previous screen."

Still the wild wild west out there and these scammers make it so much harder for honest consultants to legitimately help folks.
 

Marie Ysais

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It's sad and the only way around some of this is to help educate your client. Most of my clients have been scammed in the past so they are already a bit leery. I think SEO in general is still a very new topic to most people and it is easy to scam if someone doesn't know. Knowledge is power!
 

Kel

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I have had three different clients receive calls similar to this. It is extremely frustrating to deal with. I have sent an e-mail to all of my clients to keep them from giving a PIN to anyone but me.
 

Linda Buquet

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Great idea Kel and with all the scammers out there I guess you need to.

SMBs just don't know any better and think it's really Google.

Every time I go to my Chiropractor's office (who I did free work for 3 years ago when I was 1st learning the ropes) the staff says. "Google keeps calling over and over with that stupid recording and we just hang up on them." I keep telling them if it's a robo call it's NOT Google. But they still think it's Google every time!
 

Scott Rawlins

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Just had a dental client receive a vm from an "Alex" that said the Google listing is going to be deleted. I know I remember hearing about scammers before, but wanted to get any opinions or experiences with this. I am finding out if they identified themselves as a Google employee or what. Any help would be appreciated. If it's legit, I certainly don't want their listing deleted. Thanks in advance.
 

Linda Buquet

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Hi Scott,

I've never heard of Google leaving a voice mail and doubt they'd leave one of that nature.

Sounds like a scammy scare tactic to me. Can they check caller ID and match the call time? Maybe not if they get lots of calls. Tell them to carefully listen to what's said on live calls. Many times these shady SEOs will say something like "I'm calling from the Google Verification Department" which leads businesses to think they are from Google.
 

Scott Rawlins

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I'm fairly certain it's a scam, but am trying to get more detail from client now.
 

Kel

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I have clients that get these calls, too. The number is always changing, but the calls are the same. The most recent number is 802-488-3091. When I call that number it just says "press 1 to have your number removed from the call list." I finally was able to get a client to play dumb and go through the call the other day. These people (who will NOT tell you the name of their business) say they are will Google and can send a card and claim your profile for money. The client that took the call has a beautiful profile in the top spot for all keywords. I had to inform all of my clients that this is a scam and they should simply block the number and ignore it. Some people have no integrity...
 
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