phone cord wrapped aroundWhat would you do if you answered your phone and a representative from Google was on the other end of the line? If you’re like most website owners, you’d probably be pretty excited. You might think that your site was finally getting the attention it deserved, especially if the “representative” claimed that your site was attracting a lot of attention. You might also be quite interested in the services and/or products the representative offered to you, likely at a special, limited-time-offer discount rate if you just give him or her your credit card number over the phone.

Unfortunately, if you get a telephone call like this, there’s a pretty good chance that it’s a scam. While it is true that Google does sometimes call current or prospective clients about advertising, sponsorships, and more, it’s usually fairly easy to tell the difference between a legitimate call from Google and a call from a scam artist…if you know what to look for.

What A Legitimate Google Representative Won’t Do

If you do happen to get a call that sounds like it may be from Google, listen carefully! Often times, if you really listen to what the person on the other end of the line is saying, you’ll find that he or she doesn’t actually claim to be with Google. While the person might mention Google and probably strongly hopes that you’ll assume he or she is, some scammers are smart enough to not actually make false claims over the phone. These scammers say just enough to trick you into thinking they represent Google but are vague enough to avoid legal trouble if they’re caught. Never hesitate to ask the caller to repeat information or to request a callback number; you can then check that number to see if it is really affiliated with Google. Also keep in mind that there are certain things a real Google representative would never do and that a real Google phone call would never consist of.

First of all, Google never places “robocalls.” Robocalls are automatic calls — the kind that have a computerized recording on the line when you answer the phone. Any call that doesn’t come from a real, live person is not from Google. Google also does not run promotions asking users to “claim their free websites,” so don’t fall victim to this scam. And Google won’t ask you to make updates to your site, nor to pay a fee to have your site listed in Google Search or Google Places. If the person on the other end of the line does any of these things, he or she is not from Google.

Lofty Promises

Many people have complained that they received calls from Google and that the representative asked them to pay a fee to receive top placement in Google search results or in Google Ads. Since Google is based on people’s searches and those searches are constantly changing, the company can never guarantee any type of placement for your ad, so such calls are obviously fake. Also be aware of calls or even mailed (or emailed) invoices asking you to pay for your spot on Google Maps; inclusion in Google Maps is free for any business with a physical address.

Stay on the Safe Side

To keep your money and your privacy safe, never, ever give your credit card number to anyone over the phone, no matter where the person claims to be calling from or what incentives he or she offers you for doing so. Furthermore, don’t provide personal information, such as your social security number, telephone number, full name, or address to anyone over the phone; a legitimate company such as Google would never ask you to do so anyway.