Google Profile Hijacking Explained
Business owners are being targeted by scammers trying to gain access to their Google Business profiles. When the scammers get control of the profile, they can alter the information or even shut down the profile completely. At Blackhawk, we have seen a significant uptick in “Google Profile Hijacking” attacks.
Why Hijack A Google Business Profile?
Scammers want access to your Google Business profile to do any of the following:
- Alter your information to be inaccurate, which can hurt your search rankings.
- Change the phone number to a number they control and use it to sell your leads to a competitor – or even back to you!
- Shut down your profile to remove it from Google Maps and/or Search.
How Are They Hijacking Profiles?
Email Access Requests
There are numerous ways a scammer can gain access to your Google Business Profile. Most of them involve the scammer requesting direct access to your Google profile.
For example, below is a screenshot of a request that, upon further inspection of the email address, would be easily identified as SPAM:
Requests like the one above would be easily identified and rejected by most agencies and business owners. However, these scammers can get more sophisticated, like in the example below:
Even in the above example, business owners typically reject the request – sometimes, however, they accept it by accident or without looking too closely at the email address.
For any business owner working with an agency, their servicing team may confuse a request like this as the business owner adding a user to their profile.
In either case, once this request is accepted, the business owner is in danger of being hijacked and losing control over their profile.
Even here at Blackhawk, these requests have become extremely common, to the point where our agency rejects ten or more of these across about 50 Google My Business profiles on a weekly basis.
The good news is, agencies and business owners are becoming more aware of these scams. The downside, however, is that since the effectiveness of these requests have decreased over time, scammers have evolved with more elaborate schemes.
$99 Google Reverification Scam
A few of our clients have been reached out to by scammers disguising themselves as Google My Business representatives. In most cases they will claim that their business isn’t ranking well since they aren’t “verified” or that they are suspended for specific keywords.
They even go as far to say that they need to pay a $99 reverification fee to get their business “visible again”.
Fortunately for our client, we have their profile on our Google My Business Assurance program which helps prevent these attacks from being successful. For any business owner that doesn’t have SPAM blockers set up, as soon as they text over the code they will lose their profile.
How To Prevent These Attacks?
At the minimum, you need someone monitoring your profile daily.
If an individual requests access to your profile and you don’t reject it, there is a chance Google will automatically push through the access to the scammer.
For business owners who don’t have the time or staff in place to monitor their Google profile, we have a solution! Blackhawk offers a Google Business Profile Assurance program that includes the following:
- SPAM protection – software that blocks these requests from getting to the profile.
- Daily monitoring – our team acts as your second line of defense to prevent attacks that slip through our software.
- Data backups – we back up all Google Business data including reviews, photos, products, services, etc., which is very useful if a profile is altered by a user or Google.
- Free reinstatements/profile recovery – despite our best efforts, if a profile is compromised, we take care of the reinstatement process so you don’t have to worry about it!
The Bottom Line
In a lot of industries, having a strong Google presence is required to get leads.
The unfortunate fact is, these profile hijacking scams only continue to grow. If you have any questions about keeping your profile safe from these attacks, schedule a profile audit by reaching out to us today!