Spammers Cold Calling Local Businesses - Claiming They Need To Update Their Business Listings

Jan 3, 2014 • 8:05 am | comments (29) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Maps

google maps phone callsBaruch Labunski from Rank Secure in Canada pinged me the other day asking me why I can't stop the phone calls he is getting from spammers claiming implying they are from Google, trying to sell him services to update his local Google Places Business Maps listing.

He said he constantly gets phone calls, automated phone calls, that say "Our records show you have not updated your free Google (business) listing." It then asks you to press 1 to update the listing and 2 to exit. I had no clue what he was talking about. I never got a call like this but it seems many do.

There is a blog post from David Meharey with complaints and also an older Google Business Help thread with complaints.

The calls get excessive, annoying and are incredibly spammy. If you use Google Voice, an iPhone or have a flexible PBX, you can easily block the numbers. Your phone company might be able to help as well.

I assume Google can sue the company doing this but it is not Google calling you.

The thread has some opinions on who is making the calls.

Forum discussion at Google Business Help.

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01/03/2014 01:11 pm

may be it google new blackhat tactic, they are very aggressive with adwords ads and calling lot of time.

Patti Paz

01/03/2014 01:18 pm

These callers DON'T say they WORK for Google. They are very careful to 'throw in' Google's name numerous times, but never say they work for them.

Barry Schwartz

01/03/2014 01:19 pm

I never got a call but I will update the story based on your comment.

Eric Rohrback

01/03/2014 01:29 pm

This isn't new. Companies have been doing this for years. It's part of the Local SEO's job to inform their client on how to respond to situations like this and make sure they realize Google doesn't call to get you to update a listing on maps, only to verify correct information (mostly address the business is at and if you accept customers at that location).

Alexander Hemedinger

01/03/2014 02:57 pm

Gotta make that $$$!

Lee Robertson

01/03/2014 03:06 pm

I get these calls all the time and yes you can block them but they call so often from multiple phone numbers it gets hard to keep up. As for Google Voice that is useless for us Canadians because we don't have Google Voice available in Canada! The phone company is just as useless unless you want to pay the fee for blocking every number that these spammers call from. Would not be surprised if the US call spammers got the numbers from our do not call list thanks to our Government selling the do not call list. Just ridiculous.

Terry Simmonds

01/03/2014 03:27 pm

I run an online business directory in the UK and are plagued by cold callers who go though my directory calling the businesses registered with me. To combat them I have a number of honeypot listings so I can monitor what they are up to. Companies implying they are from Google happens all the time. On saying that, Google do actually ring businesses in the UK quite frequently about Maps listings. I always assumed they were the scam companies too, but no, if you edit a Places listing it can quite often result in a call from the Maps team (or as suggest, more likely the AdWords Express team)

Terry Simmonds

01/03/2014 03:31 pm

Although most of the time they imply they are from Google here in the UK they do sometimes claim to actually be from Google. I guess it depends how desperate they are or whether they have reached their targets.


01/03/2014 03:58 pm

This has been going on for a long time. We probably get a half dozen of these calls each week at our business. Most are automated, but some are live operators. We just hang up on them.


01/03/2014 04:37 pm

google have created even off-line spammers. :)

Don Dikaio

01/03/2014 05:29 pm

This really isn't anything to new, I've personally been called from businesses that that point blank tell you that they have a partnership with Google and calling on their behalf.


01/03/2014 10:11 pm

I just hung up on one 5 min ago! We get the calls several times a week usually from a private number so hard to block.

Sean Murray

01/04/2014 03:29 am

This has been going on forever man

Gracious Store

01/05/2014 03:18 am

I have received numerous calls to update my Google listing, sometime when I press 1 to be connected to "life agent" the person will simply hang up the phone. Or at best the person will ask if I am the owner of the business (Call my business name) if I say yes,, he/she will simply hang up of the phone. At other time their calling ID will read "Google Ranking" I suggest that Google should find out who is doing that and take them up.

Casey Markee, MBA

01/05/2014 05:50 pm

Yeap, same here, I get one about every other week. Multiple locations including Marysville, WA, Peoria, IL and on the East Coast. I've repeatedly waited to get a real person on the phone and always fail to do so. Blocking the numbers is one option but more needs to be done.

Soni Sharma

01/06/2014 07:52 am

There are lots of bugs in Google Local business listing. I hope they will fix it soon. many business listing have wrong details, states and zip codes when business owner fixed the same listing it is not being displayed after approved.

Alex G.

01/06/2014 08:58 pm

In the past when I've gotten these calls I've taken the comical approach with them - I ask them how much it costs to just buy the first position on google. I like to play stupid and ask why I can't just buy the first spot. They usually end up hanging up on me :)


01/23/2014 01:49 am

I have iphone. What I have done - I have created a contact and named it PROMO-SPAM...and everytime they call me from numerous states from USA I add the phone in there. The good part about it...and I noticed...if you pick up the phone and you don't talk...they will not call you again from the same number or at least they will delay in calling you so frequently. Same thing applies when you don't answer the call and goes straight to your voice mail. Soon as you say a word...then the auto comes in: "Our records show..." My promo-spam contact which has multiple phone numbers has been blocked on my phone. Hope this helps. I am really angry with these guys....just cause they call me from numerous area codes and phone numbers.


02/18/2014 06:24 pm

Local lighthouse just called my cell phone pitching their "optimization" and claiming to be from Google, Bing, AND Yahoo. First a predatory "We're calling from google and if you don't press one you will be eliminated" automated voice blast. Then, an absolutely clueless salesman trying to pitch "optimization" over and over again. This makes my job as a full-stack marketer very hard and gives us SEOs a bad reputation.

Kolleen Powers

03/08/2014 04:46 am

I get at least three of these calls a week. I try pressing "9" to be removed from their list, but it doesn't stop them. last week I decided to play along. I asked them what they could do for me and they said they can get me on page of Google. My answer was, I'm already number one on page one of both Google and Bing for "Sacramento web design, can you do better than that"? They fumbled a bit and said no. I had to push it and say "I could probably teach you a thing or two about SEO"!


03/11/2014 12:15 am

I asked if they had a computer in front of them, and asked them to type our business name into google. He followed along and I asked what he saw. He said our business name and i finished with "That is our google listing" *click*. But they will never stop

Chia in Chief

03/14/2014 07:15 pm

I've played along a couple of times by taking up the guy's time, then asking the guy to give me an example of a business for whom he has provided his service so that I could Google that business and see a real life example of what he actually accomplished for a company, and so that I could call the owner to ask how happy he was with the service and the price. The responses I've gotten have included immediately hanging up, saying, "That's confidential. We can't give out that information" (yeah, right), or complete inability to give me one example that demonstrated anything useful.


03/18/2014 07:39 pm

UGH stupid automated call is annoying at least 3 times a day everyday Mon-Fri "This is the Google Maps services, your listing on google is about to expire. please press 1 to talk to a rep" Every time from a different number. If it was all from one number I would have already complained to the no call list, and the phone company. Spammy bot callers.


04/08/2014 01:32 am

I received 9 phone calls today from the imposter of Google. 4 were from Tobago & 4 from Fort Lauderdale. When I ask for names, they hang up. Who would deal with a company that makes a person HATE them? Not Me.

Sad business owner

04/16/2014 05:56 pm

I just got one arguing with me on the phone named Denise at 949) 201-1242. I told her I just validated/verified my business listing last week, and that I was already working with Google. She told me I HAD to buy the $399.00 verification or SHE was taking me off of Google. I asked if she was Google, but she said she worked for an Irvine-based company contracted by them. She started to yell at me and said she was going to take me off forever!

Ronald J

04/17/2014 11:17 pm

To update my business listing on Google press 1. Its a SCAM! You don't have to pay someone to update you business listing on Google. You can do it yourself for free. If you are savvy enough to craft and write an email, you have the capacity required to update your business listing. These companies are trying to create a real sense of urgency, that is not real. What you should do is take the call and report them, as they are using strong arm tactics to represent that your business can be removed from Google entirely, unless you pay them. I work for a PR firm and this is just another tactic to scare business owners into a quick credit card payment. The only way these companies stop doing what they are doing is if you call the police and report them to google.

Ronald J

04/22/2014 10:52 pm

If the company calling you makes it sound like you must press 1 or you will no longer be listed on google or even online, it is FRAUD! You need to report the company immediately and help save your fellow businesses owners. Since my first post, I checked with a Google employee and she said that Google does call out on business listings, but does not work with other companies to have them call you. If they say they are working with google, ask for the business license and name so you can check and then report them. I'm guessing they will hang up like they did with me and my neighbor. Google also said they had nothing to do with any $399.00 packages. If you were sold one, you should consider asking for your money back and report the company for their original fraudulent message. Companies cannot use fraudulent scare tactics to get people to press one. If you don't want to deal with it yourself: Post an add on craigslist and have a college kid do the same thing for twenty dollars.


06/18/2014 08:16 pm

Its funny how many people complain. I understand the calls and the frustration but the bashing of a company (whoever it is) is wrong. Just because they cold call to help a business does not necessarily mean it is a scam... now... how many people have had CC information or personal info taken and used??? I have always wondered about these companies, but I have also done this type of work! It takes some time... a lot of these companies offer lifetime offers. Google changes their algorithm like square dancers change partners... as a small business owner do you have the time to change that? I have seen the differences these listings can make. The phone book is dead people... now show of hands... how many people jump on GOOGLE on their phones to answer questions of find things!? I do all the time... yeah the phone calls are annoying, but I just have a cool little phone blocker app and I just add them as they call. Just like debt collectors lol... If these companies were robbing people and maybe raping then I would be concerned... but they arent. They have a lot of work to do too just like all you business owners! I havent seen one person bitch about actually getting these services... where are you people??? If you went with someone who knows how to do it then they are very satisfied... Its exactly like H&R Block... now should we start bitching about them? I can fly through my taxes right here at home with Turbo Tax! Easy as hell right? But... if I miss some parts... or if this isnt right... or that isnt right... then you answer to the IRS. 100 bucks to H&R and I get my max refund... satisfied customer. Same with GOOGLE, if you miss MANY OF THEIR VERY CONFUSING STEPS, You lose customers... thats just as bad... $20.00 to $1,000... if they brought me more business I would do it! It helped my business by leaps and bounds, granted I did it alone but I am a very very experted Google user. Trust me... just give someone a chance if YOU dont know what your doing... dont let your ignorance of not understanding ruin your own business! Google rules... simple as that! (How it works:


06/20/2014 10:07 pm

First off, in California, a robotic call is illegal. Would I do business with a company that starts off our relationship with something illegal. Would I do business with a company (not going to your link but I'm guessing you posted to boost your own search engine rankings) that sticks up for businesses using illegal tactics? No I wouldn't. These calls have gotten so numerous I rarely answer any long distance calls anymore.

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