Your phone rings, and the person on the other end says they are calling from Google. How do you know if it’s a legitimate call from Google?
Listen to what the caller says. Many of these calls are from salespeople at not-so-reputable companies, who have been given a script intentionally designed to mislead you. They want you to think they are calling from Google, but they do not actually come out and say that. Instead, they refer to themselves as “Google specialists” or something similar, although there are some callers unscrupulous enough to actually lie about it.
Many of them will try to use scare tactics and tell you your Google Places listing will disappear if you do not buy their services. They will make wild promises about how what they’ll put you at the top of Google. Sometimes it’s not even a human that calls, but a robo-dialer that broadcasts a recorded message, which prompts you to respond by pressing a number on your keypad. When you get one of these calls, either hang up, or ask them to remove you from their calling list immediately. They are up to no good! They are most definitely NOT calling from Google.
There are only a few circumstances when you might receive a call that is actually coming from Google:
- You claimed a Google Places listing or made significant changes to it, and are verifying it by phone. When you choose to do this, the business phone number will immediately ring, and a robot on the other end will provide you with a PIN number to enter into the verification field in your dashboard.
- You put in a Google Places call-back support request. When you do this, your phone will ring immediately, and you will be placed on hold to talk to the next available support specialist. (How long you stay on hold depends on call volume.)
- You requested Google Places support via an online form, provided your phone number as a point of contact, and someone from Google is calling you back to discuss the problem. This is not a common occurrence: support usually communicates via email. However, you will know if you have asked for assistance in correcting your business listing, and then, you will look forward to hearing from Google.
- A salesperson calls from Google trying to interest you in AdWords Express, which is a paid advertising product that Google is pushing to local businesses. I am not sure if these callers are really Googlers or contractors, but most of these are legitimate calls. If you are interested, listen to the pitch. If not, politely end the conversation and ask them to remove you from their calling list.
- A Google fact-checker calls to, well, check the facts about your business. These callers will identify themselves as calling from Google, but the questions they ask you may not make much sense, so they are often mistaken for the unwelcomed sales calls mentioned above. They are trying to determine that your business is legitimate, and that the information you entered in your Places listing meets Google’s quality guidelines. The goal of this process is to weed out of the local business listings as many spammers as possible.
All of these calls appear on caller ID as coming from Google, and show (650) 253-0000 as the phone number.
Hopefully, this information helps you to determine whether a caller contacting you and claiming to be from Google is really from Google.