If you have local search and local listings, you already know about how you can manage them via your Google Business Platform. Google’s new way for business owners to manage their Google listings, as we covered in a previous blog, now also impacts your rankings on Google’s search engine. This means you need to stay on top of engagement, updating your information, and more to stay ahead of the game.

That said, your Google Business Listing is obviously critical. That’s why scammers and other fraudsters are going after it like never before. You may have heard about scam calls claiming to be from Google, but we’ve seen a disturbing uptick in emails from our customers that you need to be aware of.

How does Google Business Profile work?

To understand this new scam, you need to know the basics on how Google Business Profile works, mainly, the administrative side of things.

You can delegate admins to two levels in Google Business Profile: owner and manager. Owners can add or remove members from the business profile. Managers can remove themselves, but they can’t add users. Also, only the primary owner can transfer primary ownership.

The scam

Bringing us to the scam. Anyone with a Gmail account can request ownership of your Google Business Profile. However, unlike most scams where you can just block the offending sender, you NEED to respond to their request. Why? If you don’t reject their request within three business days, Google may automatically grant them access to your listing.

Scammers are betting that you’ll follow the tried-and-true rules of not responding to their email. As you ignore their request though, Google could automatically grant them the access they requested. Once they have access as an owner, they can add and remove any information on your business profile they want. Then, they could come calling or emailing, claiming you owe them money to restore your previous settings. Worse, they could delete your listing altogether, and once it’s gone, it’s gone.

The good news is that according to Google’s page on Google Business Profile, new owners and managers have to wait seven days to delete profiles and other owners and managers. While this would obviously be annoying for existing admins, it’s a good failsafe in case you don’t catch the scam on time.

What to Do:

Whether you’ve been scammed or not, here’s what you should do to avoid having your Google Business Profile tampered with.

1. Claim Your Google Business Profile!

Are small businesses vulnerable to this new scam because they haven’t claimed their Google Business Profile? There’s a similar scam that you may have heard of out there were someone will call or email you, claiming they’re reaching out about your Google business listing. Often, they’ll claim your Google Business Profile without your knowledge.

Whether they have or haven’t there are steps you can take to mitigate the damage. However, step 1 is always to claim or create your Google Business Profile, or get it back under your control if someone else claimed it.

2. Reject the request if you don’t know the sender

If you receive an email like the one a lot of our customers are getting, don’t respond immediately. Go to your Google Business Profile, claim it if you haven’t already. If someone else took it over, follow Google’s steps to take your profile back ASAP! Then, find the pending request and reject it. If it’s been three days and they’re already there and you’re the primary owner, remove them from your account within seven days to prevent them from removing users.

3. If you know the sender …

Even if you think you know the sender, ALWAYS triple-check the email. Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification directly from your third party by picking up the phone and calling. If you’re unsure about the sender and think it’s a coworker, give them a buzz or walk down the hall and ask if they’re requesting access.

If you do know the sender, be sure you’re only giving them the access they need to do their job. If you own the business, with very few exceptions, YOU should be the primary owner of your Google Business Profile! Even if you’re working with a third party to maximize the number of listings your business appears on, they don’t need primary ownership, or even ownership; they can take care of your listing with manager admin privileges just fine.

4. Be persistently vigilant

Finally, check in on your Google Business Listing every once and a while. If you come across an email requesting access to your Business Profile as an owner or manager, look into it ASAP – don’t wait!

If you want more help managing your Google Business Profile or your other listings, contact us today and ask about LSO and LSO Plus packages. Not sure where you stand on local listings? Use our free listing report generator.