What is a Google My Business Page?
First off, what is a Google My Business page? In short, it’s a free business listing like Yellow Pages phone books were, but online and still being used today. If you own a company, you simply need to have one, and have it validated with a postcard! It is a relatively simple process to do. For more information about Google My Business pages, please see this page on Google.
How is this a scam? This company is simply providing a service at a cost… right?
I get it; a business makes money by providing services to other businesses and charging money for its time especially time-saving automated services like this one, etc. What I don’t like are the scare tactics that this company employs by saying that the business owner’s “Google business listing has not yet been claimed or not verified on Google. So as of right now it is being displayed improperly and is at the risk of being removed.” This is a 100% false statement! You can have a Google My Business listing on Google forever without it being verified, and it will not be removed without people flagging it. Granted, a Google My Business listing performs much better when it’s verified, but none the less, any business owner can do this for free. Optimization of your Google My Business page is another story, but I highly doubt that this company knows how to do it, let alone spend the time doing it with its automated system.
The Standard Scam Phone Call (transcribed from audio recording below):
Female Automated: 00:00
Take advantage of this rare opportunity to get ahead of your competition. Press one now to find out how to validate your free Google [my business listing].
Male Automated: 00:10
If you are not the business owner and would like to be placed on our “Do not call list”, press eight. Otherwise, if you are the business owner and would like to speak to a specialist, press five now.
Second Male Auto: 00:21
This call may be recorded for quality assurance and training purposes.
This one, maybe two.
Your call is very important to us. Please stay on the line, and you’ll be transferred to the next available agent.
Thank you for your patience, my name is Mike, who do I have the pleasure of speaking with?
Hi Joe, how are you?
Good, How about yourself?
I’m pretty good Ummm… now, are you the business owner?
Yes, I am.
All Right? Uh, the reason for my phone call is that your Google business listing has not yet been claimed or not verified on Google. So as of right now, it is being displayed improperly and is at the risk of being removed. Are you aware of this?
No, I’m not.
OK. Um, let me ask you some, Joe, This is Joe, right?
All right Joe, do you know what a Google business listing is?
No… I’m n… Kind of, it’s a thing that you verify for businesses or….
Yeah, I mean, I’m sure. I’m sure. I’m sure you do, you know, when you go on Google, and you know, you type in any, anything, any product, service, you know, restaurants, fast food, HVAC, anything at all. OK. And um, the businesses pop up and that little blue box with the pictures, contact Info ratings.
You know what I’m talking about now Joe [inaudible]. OK, well that’s what we’re talking about here. So I don’t want to take up too much of your time. I’m sure you’re busy, what I would like to do is just ask a few generic questions about your business. Nothing too personal. I just want to make sure you’re qualified for services. If you are qualified, I will then transfer you to my senior authorized Google My Business representative. We just need to verify the company information that’s got to be displayed and OK, I need your exact company name, [phone] number, website [address] if you have one, [business] address, hours of operation, year of establishment, then an email Joe, But the email is not for the public so we can contact you in regards to the listing. OK?
At that point, all your information will be uploaded to your Google account and a pin code will be issued to your business from Google corporate. OK. Once the information gets reviewed for accuracy, your permanent listing is going to go live for the lifetime of the business. Are you following me, Joe, or am I losing you?
No, absolutely. That’s cool. This is a free service, correct?
There’s a time agency fee. It’s actually computer generated and based off industry and location. Um, my senior Google My Business representative will go over that with you. At that point in time you can either choose to accept or decline our services and if not, we’ll part as friends, Joe. Fair enough?
Well, what is the average cost for something like that?
I don’t know. I don’t know the exact cost just because you know, I mean we don’t. I don’t know if I could tell you price right now. It might be by me, it might be too high because compared to what you did, what you would actually be getting charged. So I don’t want to steer you away, all I gotta do is ask you a few questions and then I can transfer you over to the person who can go over that with you. Is that fair enough, Joe?
Yeah, that sounds about right. I have one more question for you. This is with Google, or is this another company?
Ok, we are Modern Spotlight. We are an authorized Google My Business agency. Google actually deals with Fortune 500 companies and they do leave it to third-party agencies like ourselves to deal with the small to medium-sized businesses. We also manage and maintain this for the lifetime of the business. So if there’s any changes you want, new pictures uploaded, ahh, we help with your ratings and reviews. We also do that for the lifetime of the business. And it’s like I said, it’s a one-time agency fee, it’s not a monthly or yearly. Um, so if I could just get this portfolio built for you real quick and very fast.
Sure. So how do you manage ratings and review out of curiosity?
OK. So, so we, we actually have a system where we can help with the ratings. Now reviews say if somebody, um, whereas anyone writes a bad review, it’s not a guarantee to get them removed, but we actually, we do have certain ways to go about disputing those with Google to get those removed. If we are unsuccessful at getting them removed, we do offer, at least give a, you know, a rebuttal to those reviews and say something, um, you know, just so, it just looks more professional that way.
Umm, actually, I, you know, I actually, believe it or not, I am in the process of going in to see family. Can I give you a callback or is it, this number is OK to call you back at, or what number do I call you back at?
You can call us back at this number and if you do uh just, just ask for Mike. Alright, Joe?
So, yeah, sorry about that. Mike, unfortunately, this is a family emergency and I do apologize. Thank you so much.
Oh, it’s alright Joe, I hope you have a great day.
Alright, You too. Take care.
Listen to the audio file:
What do I do if I have received one of these Robo calls?
Google would like you to report suspicious activity online. Please read “Report Robo Scams”.
Post-Overview of Phone Call:
After taking this phone call with “Mike” I was concerned about several things.
- “Management of Ratings”
- I did not press this issue while I was on the phone with him, but I’m guessing they do positive review stuffing that in the long run will hurt your business. How this is done is by being in control of multiple Google Plus/Gmail accounts and leaving positive ratings on a Google My Business page for a specific company.
- High-pressure sales tactics.
- They are basically saying that your company will be de-listed if you don’t use their service right now.
- False information.
- That my Google My Business page isn’t verified, but it is. I got the postcard years ago!
- This business that called me has no presence online.
- It is hiding because the company itself is a SCAM!
I did a Google search for “Modern Spotlight,” the company that “Joe” talked to, and that business doesn’t even have its own Google My Business page! I’m guessing that’s because it would have such a poor rating if it did. See the consumer complaints against “Modern Spotlight” on Better Business Bureau’s website here.
The Update & Conclusion
Due to this blog post and the audio recording above, Christopher Erickson over at the FTC contacted us about an ongoing investigation to take action to stop deceptive robocalls aimed at small business owners by Pointbreak Media, LLC & Modern Source Media, LLC.
See the case proceedings for PointBreak Media, LLC/Modern Source Media, LLC/Modern Spotlight LLC. filed by the Federal Trade Commission. See the federal injunction. See the below excerpt:
“On July 3, 2018, the FTC filed an Amended Complaint adding five Defendants and two Relief Defendants. The five new Defendants all participated in, and are liable for, making false Google-affiliation claims, false threats of removal from Google, and false promises of Google keywords to sell Google “claiming and verification” services to small business owners. The Relief Defendants received proceeds from Defendants’ fraudulent sales, despite lacking any legitimate entitlement to those funds. The FTC seeks a preliminary injunction prohibiting the new Defendants from continuing this scam, appointing a Receiver over the new Corporate Defendants, freezing the assets of the new Defendants, and freezing limited assets of the Relief Defendants.”
In conclusion, we are happy we were able to write this blog, and give recorded evidence to the Federal Trade Commission against such an unscrupulous company! We, unfortunately, see too much of this type of stuff in the industry. If you have questions, feel free to give us a call.
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