Google recently announced some new measures it’s taking to help protect small businesses from scammers. This follows recent action from the Federal Trade Commission and numerous efforts by Google itself to keep business from falling prey to what the company refers to as “predatory practices.”
“We’re committed to building products and programs that help small businesses grow,” said Bryan Solar, Product Lead, SMB Market Development at Google. “Unfortunately, we continue to receive complaints from business owners about calls they receive claiming to be from Google. Often these calls are actually third-party companies who are trying to take advantage of them. Sometimes these scammers claim to be able to improve a business’s Google Search rankings, other times they charge money for services that Google offers for free. Understandably, these scams are frustrating for business owners and for us at Google.”
Specifically, there are five things Google is doing, which should make a difference. First off, the company has taken legal action against several entities, including Kydia, Inc., d/b/a BeyondMenu, Point Break Media, LLC (and affiliated entities), and Supreme Marketing Group, Inc., d/b/a Small Business Solutions. In May, the FTC took action against Point Break Media for misleading small businesses and threatening to remove their Google search results unless they paid for search engine optimization services.
The legal action isn’t just about the named entities, however. Google says it hopes this sends a message to other scammers.
The second thing Google announced is the development of new ways (both automated and manual) to better identify Google accounts tied to scam efforts. The company has updated policies to help it better identify such accounts, remove them, and/or limit their capabilities.
Third, Google has developed a tool that allows business owners to report “scammy practices” as well as violations of policy. It enables people to include specific information that will help Google take action.
The search giant has also begun providing educational resources to local small business organizations and partners it works with through the Get Your Business Online program. The goal, Google says, is to help these businesses empower their communities to identify, prevent, and report scams.
Finally, the company launched what it calls the Google My Business Partners program, which aims to give business owners a directory of “trusted partners” for when they need help managing listings.
The company assures businesses that it will continue taking action against scammers by evolving its products and systems, making policy changes, and turning to law enforcement and legal action when necessary. It also maintains that there are a number of measures that businesses can take on their own to protect themselves.
Google recommends businesses verify whether someone is actually reaching out from Google if they claim to be. It also suggests claiming your business using Google My Business, knowing “what’s possible and not possible when it comes to search engine marketing,” hanging up the phone when receiving unwanted robocalls, reporting unwanted callers, and registering with the National Do Not Call Registry.
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