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Beware of SEO Robocall Scams

As a small to medium business owner, chances are good that you’ve been targeted by an SEO Robocall scam. Here’s how to protect yourself and your employees from being tricked.

The good news? Google just filed a lawsuit against a crooked company that used robocalls to small businesses. The bad? These companies are evolving faster than Google and anyone else for that matter can report and/or regulate them.

Fake Google Calls

Luckily most of the people who get this particular pitch don’t fall for it because they are consumers and not businesses. But this scam can be very effective with the smaller businesses trying to compete online with the big guys.

In this scheme, the recorded message tells people that unless they return the call, their listing on Google Search and Maps will imminently vanish or be labeled as “closed.” These robocallers are also tricking businesses into paying for unwanted SEO services. You could also hear one of the following classic scam-calls:

Your website is not listed in Google, which could be costing you thousands of dollars a year in lost business.

Your Google listing is not up to date, meaning that your website won’t be found in the search results.

Your website is at risk of being removed from the search engine results altogether.

The Scary Statistics

Spam phone calls aren’t just annoying — they’re costing American consumers billions of dollars.

  • A record 5 billion-plus robocalls were placed in the month of October alone, according to the latest tally by YouMail.
  • October’s massive robocall volume means 170 million robocalls were placed per day, 71 million per hour, and 2,000 per second, with each person in America receiving an average of 15 robocalls.
  • The total number of robocalls placed in 2018 reached 50 billion, eclipsing 2017’s record—by 20 billion calls.
  • According to Macomber, 84 percent of unknown mobile calls (and an even higher percentage of landline calls) go unanswered these days. This can be a real problem for legitimate businesses trying to reach their customers.
  • As many as half of all cellphone calls in 2019 could be spam.
  • A new study by Truecaller found that roughly 22.1 million Americans lost a total of $9.5 billion in robocall scams, with the average loss per person at roughly $430.

Don’t Get Tricked

As a business owner it can be alarming to hear your rankings are about to tank. What’s more an offer to “fix” or help you claim your Google listing may sound like the perfect solution to all your SEO problems. But as the above statistics show, if you do receive suspicious robocalls from any company claiming to perform SEO services, don’t bite.

As we wait for the day when the tide turns on robocallers, there are a few things you can do to protect yourself:

  1. List your phone number with the ‘Do Not Call Registry‘: This will ensure your number be removed from the call lists companies use, but you’ll still get calls from organizations with which you have established a business relationship (storm warnings, school closures, and other civic notices)
  2. Many dishonest robocallers ignore the laws and will call you anyway, so hang up the phone as soon as you realize you are being targeted.
  3. Never agree to speak with a live party.
  4. Don’t provide any financial or personal information, such as your credit card number or Social Security number.
  5. Report Google phone scams to Google via this link.
  6. Brief your staff on the above points if they receive the call.

We also encourage you to check out Google’s Safety Center Page and report the callers to the search engine and to government officials here.