Avoid and Report Google Scams
Over the years, Google has become a trusted name that everyone recognizes. Google has become so synonymous with internet culture that I’d be surprised if you could go a full day without hearing the phrase “just Google it.”
But with such recognition, comes implicit trust; trust that can be exploited. Malicious people can use the Google brand to scam and defraud unsuspecting users. Knowledge is your best weapon against these scams, so I’ve compiled a few of the most common scams and ways you can avoid them.
Specific Google Scams
Google Top Placement – SEO Scam
Google will never guarantee that your ad or search result will receive top placement. Any claim to the contrary is a scam and should be reported.
A variation of this scam is one that claims that a firm will claim they can “priority submit” your content to Google, which simply does not exist. The only way Google allows you to submit a site directly is through Google Webmaster Tools. Here you can use the Add URL or Sitemap tools to get your site indexed by the search giant.
If you’re a small business in the U.S., you can also visit the new Get Your Business Online to submit your site to Google directly. This great new tool can help you walk through all the necessary steps to get your business on the (digital) map. This is a free process, so anyone requesting a fee is a scam and should be avoided.
Google Local Phone Scams
Google will occasionally make calls to a business, but they will originate from Google’s main number: (650) 253-0000. Beware of calls that do not come from this number.
You will not ever receive a call that says the business owner must review and confirm the information on the Google My Business page or it will no longer show under search results. If you receive a call like this, always ask for a website URL and double check the phone number the caller is calling from to see if it is from Google’s main number.
Google Account Recovery Scams
Google may send you a text to verify your Google Account, but they will never ask that you reply via text. Do not respond to unsolicited text messages with personal information (which is good advice for any situation, really). If you do receive a text, always use your computer and visit Google Account Security settings
How to Avoid Scams
A good rule of thumb is to treat any free offers or “congratulatory” prizes as a likely scam. Treat a website pop-up that announces “YOU ARE A WINNER!!” with the skepticism it deserves.
Never (EVER) fill out a form attached to free offers. Be cautious: even if you start filling out the form and don’t hit submit, your information can still be sent to scammers. Best practice is to just avoid any of these free offers.
There are also known scams using the Google brand. Stay away from any Google free giveaways, including training sessions, as they do not charge any fees. It’s best to always do your research and play it safe if you get a bad feeling. Always trust your gut instinct and only visit sites that are reviewed and trusted to be safe.
Tips for Staying Safe Online
In today’s world of technology, we use the internet for everything between work and play. It’s important to know how you can browse safely online and keep your devices safe from scammers. These tips can help you stay safe online, whether you are an expert or novice user.
- CREATE STRONG PASSWORDS. This means using unique passwords for EVERY site. Be sure to use some numbers and symbols and please (PLEASE) don’t make it “password123”
- It is just as important to always sign out of your account when leave a site, including your Google account.
- Only use secure, trusted networks when browsing online. Never put your credit card information into a site that isn’t using a secure connection. If you aren’t sure, look for the “HTTPS” at the beginning of the URL.
- Keep your devices clean by keeping your browser and operating up to date, as well as scanning your computer with a high-quality antivirus product.
- For more safety tips, you can visit Google’s Safe Start List.
By reading this post, we hope it brings light to some of the most common scams and provides useful tips to keep you and your devices safe online. Happy browsing!