Google isn’t calling you

I don’t know how things like this still make the rounds in the world. People still share fake articles and posts on social media just as often as the last generation shared chain emails. People still fall for African Prince email scams, and they still panic when the “IRS” calls them with an “urgent message”. So why, in 2018, small business owners still believe Google is calling them to verify their already verified Google Business listing blows my mind.

Let me be blunt with you, taken verbatim from Google’s own Safety Center “Google does not make unsolicited sales calls from an automated system. However, we may place automated phone calls to your business, as a service to Google users, for non-sales tasks like making reservations or confirming your business hours. These calls are only enabled for businesses that offer public phone numbers for the purpose of receiving calls from the general public, and use the automated voice-calling service Duplex.”

Don’t know what Duplex is? Then you’re not using it. If you’re the business “owner” in Google My Business, you’ll receive an email and/or notification from the mobile app asking you if your hours are correct, usually around holidays they do this (see featured image).

Another legitimate use case, and again, assuming you use these products, “You may receive calls from Google operators for the purposes of development, customer service, or support related to your Google AdWords, Google Play or other Google accounts. However Google will never ask you for payment information over the phone or guarantee you favorable placement in our products.” Note, they will not guarantee you favorable placement. This is key here as Google strictly enforces anti-bribery and ethical business practices for their partners. During the due diligence process for my Google Partner application I had to be vetted for my personal and business ethics as well as signing agreements that I would not engage in unfair practices. If you’re not an AdWords or other product user, Google isn’t going to contact you “about issues with your account”. That would be like getting a call about an issue with a credit card you don’t have, and never did.

“Unfortunately, there are many unscrupulous individuals and companies who make fraudulent and misleading calls. Sometimes, callers or pre-recorded robocalls falsely claim to be working “with Google” or “for Google” in an attempt to sell different schemes and online marketing services to unsuspecting individuals and companies. Many of these types of calls are not allowed under U.S. law (unless you have given permission to receive them), and Google is never behind them.”

So, what can you do?

Google recommends first, the obvious, Hang Up. Report the call the the FTC by visiting donotcall.gov or calling 1-888-382-1222, then filling out their form to report a third party violation.

Why would anyone be calling me anyways?

A lot of the callers are using VoIP services like Google Voice, RingCentral, Skype, etc to enable them to use U.S. based phone numbers. So, you’re getting calls from India, Philippines, etc generally for the purpose of aggregating data about you and your business that they can resell or use to market to you. By “verifying” that you’re real, your number is valid, and you’re who they wanted to talk to, they can now add you to a list that essentially is going to get bombarded for the rest of eternity (or until you change numbers).