Don’t Be Fooled – Robocall Scams Targeting Small Businesses
Small Businesses continue to be a driving force in our economy and as such they are now becoming a target of fraudsters. In a recent USA Today article two of the top scams in the US are targeting small businesses. Canada isn’t immune to these calls even with more aggressive telemarketing laws, scammers know no borders, in fact one of the biggest phone scams in Canada this year is a fake Canada Revenue Agency scam. To help create greater awareness of these scams and hopefully help other small business owners protect their hard earned money let me tell you a little more about these top Robocall scams.Definition – Robocall: an automated telephone call that delivers a recorded message, typically on behalf of a political party or telemarketing company.
The Two Top Small Business Robocall Scams
SCAM #1 – Google Business Listing Scam
- The Scenario: Google calls you to inform you that your business listing is out of date and will be removed if not updated. The Google representative presents an offer to update the listing on your behalf for a small fee.
- The Truth:
- This is not Google calling you.
- Your business listing on Google is not at risk.
- This is a gateway scam, meaning they are capturing your credit card for fraudulent charges and potentially hacking into other accounts with the information you provide.
- You provide your credit card and fraudulent charges are put on it.
- You provide your Google info which now puts your Google account at risk.
- A host of your other online accounts are at risk if you have flimsy passwords which many users have, including your Gmail, Google Docs and everything associated with it.
SCAM #2 – Local Map Verification
- The Scenario: The small business receives a call stating their company has been flagged for verification in online maps. Through the verification process the business owner is asked to provide personal information to that their business will continue to be listed on online maps like GoogleMaps.
- The Truth:
- This is not Google or any company affiliated with online maps calling you.
- Your map listing probably doesn’t need verification, although you can check this yourself on the particular map platform.
- This scam allows hackers to take over online accounts with the information you provide.
- You open up your online accounts to infiltration by fraudsters by giving them your personal information.
- Potentially this can affect more than just one online account if your passwords are flimsy.
Why These Scams Work on Small Businesses
- Small Businesses are usually run by a very small team.
- Small Businesses often lack the expertise in Google listings.
- Small Business Owners are very busy and action-oriented, so they readily pay to have someone solve the problem for them.
- It’s easier to connect with the decision maker and gatekeeper of the credit card within a small business.
How Can Small Businesses Protect Themselves?
- Be aware that scams like these are now targeting you.
- Understand that Google never proactively calls businesses about their listing going out of date.
- Nobody can guarantee a 1st page listing, especially without an integrated plan that incorporates website optimizations, content development, and backlink growth just to name a few important elements.
- Defer these calls to your marketing expert. Ask the caller for their contact information so you can have your Google expert give them a call back. This will usually end the call quickly. If they say it’s impossible for you to call back, hang up.
- Never give credit card, checking account, or Social Security number information to callers who called you and who you don’t know, even if they say it’s only to confirm the information.
- Don’t send cash by messenger, overnight mail, or money transfer.
There’s lots of legitimate businesses that are pounding the pavement by making calls to potential customers each day, so this post isn’t meant to dissuade you from accepting calls. Instead my hope is that small businesses will be prepared for these scams with the truth and that they’ll avoid these costly mistakes. And if you want to grow your exposure online, get better search engine rankings, and implement a systematic approach to marketing I’d love to get your call.