Trickery? Fraud? Legitimate business practices?
I’ve been getting calls purporting to be from GOOGLE fairly frequently over the last few weeks, and I’ve always just hung up on the recording.
The number on my caller ID today was 417.952.1375. It was that GOOGLE call again, and I stayed on the line to hear: your GOOGLE business listing is about to be deleted. Press *1* if you want to keep that from happening.
A “technician” was instantly available. Opening statement: we’re calling to be sure you get your 5 digit pin. Next statement: A lot of business listings are old and defunct and will be deleted, so we’re verifying that you are an existing business.
I’ve had discussions like this with Google before (back when I originally verified my business), so I had no problem giving my address, phone number, and email address. Then he started talking about how he put “Family Law Attorney Houston Missouri” into GOOGLE and found that I was listed #10. He started talking about how I needed to list additional areas of practice, a mile-radius for the geographic area that I served, get photos uploaded, etc.
The more he talked, the more it sounded like he wanted to do a bunch of work for me, so it dawned on me that this was not just a verification process but a pitch for a service, so I interrupted him: How much does this cost? $359 or for an additional $40 I could be listed on all the other search engines as well (Yahoo, Bing, etc.).
I searched Family Law Attorney Houston Mo in my own GOOGLE search bar and saw that I was listed somewhere in the 1-3 range. So I asked him what in the world he was doing, and he said he was on Maps. I searched there, too, and discovered that I was listed in the 1-3 range there as well.
At this point, I challenged him: Are you saying that if I do not buy your $350 product, my business listing is going to be deleted? He replied, “Yes, within 1-30 days.” He claimed to be from the business called “Local Listings.”
I wrapped up the conversation, hung up, did some of my own searching, and discovered that some people who get calls like this really are getting called from GOOGLE but many are just be solicited for business. Instead of calling the first man back on the 800 number that he gave me, I dialed the number that had come up on my caller id. This gave me the original message, and when I hit *1* it took me to a new technician.
This new guy was from a business called “Local Verification.” He too opened by saying (1) I needed to get my PIN and (2) they were deleted old businesses that weren’t verified. He too looked on GOOGLE Maps and said I was listed 10th. This conversation was going in the same direction as the other one until I interrupted him and said, “I need to know how to get my PIN. You opened this conversation saying I needed to get my PIN. How do I get it?” Well, it only took him a few seconds after that to discover that (1) I already had been sent my PIN and (2) I had already verified my business listing.
He also wanted to sell me a $350 product to spiffy up my listing and he also claimed that my listing would be deleted if it wasn’t properly spiffied up.
Well, needless to say, I don’t think GOOGLE is out there deleting business listings that are not up to the right level of spiffyness. I did go ahead and get into my own listing and add a photo so that the process said my listing was 100% complete.
Watch out for people trying to sell you things you don’t need.
Examples of other things people try to sell you:
(1) have you pay for them to get you your employer identification or business tax id number. Don’t pay for this. Go directly to the IRS website and enter the application yourself. It’s just as easy to apply and get your own then it is to apply to another company to apply to the IRS to get it for you, not to mention the cost savings.
(2) have you pay for them to get you a free credit report. The truth is, the major credit reporting agencies are required by law to provide you a free credit report (I believe it’s one free one per year) at your request. Just get online and find the major credit reporting agencies and figure out how to mail or email them a request for your credit report, and you can get it. (an interesting side note: credit reports are odd ducks. A loan officer at a bank recently told me that the credit report you get when you ask for it, the credit score the home-loan-bank gets when they ask for it, and the credit report the car-loan-bank gets when they ask for it are all different.)