The company is filing new lawsuits, has developed tools and a stronger education program.
Scammers claiming to represent Google continue to prey on small business owners. They often also make threats about removing listings or outrageous claims about ranking improvements. Sometimes they try to charge for things that are free on Google.
In the past, Google has done a number of things to try and stop this kind of fraud, including filing lawsuits. Now, it’s stepping up its efforts and has announced a new set of initiatives.
The company is taking legal action against several entities. In addition, it can now better identify accounts tied to scammers and remove them. Google has also developed a tool to let business owners report scams, and it’s providing a directory of trusted partners.
Here’s an abbreviated version of what Google says in its blog post today:
- We’re taking legal action against Kydia Inc. d/b/a BeyondMenu, Point Break Media, LLC (and affiliated entities) and Supreme Marketing Group, Inc. d/b/a Small Business Solutions
- We’ve developed new automated and manual techniques to better identify Google accounts tied to scam efforts.
- We’ve created a new tool that lets business owners report scammy practices and policy violations.
- We’ve started providing resources and education to local small business organisations.
- We’re launching the Google My Business Partners program [with] a directory of trusted partners.
Google is also recommending steps that local business owners should take themselves:
- Make callers prove they’re from Google.
- Claim GMB pages.
- Understand that ranking claims are probably fake.
- Don’t respond to robocalls.
- Use the Do Not Call Registry.
The partner directory will be especially helpful. Litigation is also critical. To the extent that Google sues and wins, it will be a deterrent to firms (within the reach of US courts) trying to take advantage of the ignorance of small businesses.