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Are you a business owner who manages your own Google My Business account? Have you received solicitations to transfer ownership over to someone you don’t even know? If so, you are most likely being scammed. Here is how it works.
You receive an email from Google My Business. In the subject line, it reads:
This might be enough to shock your system. You may suddenly start to feel a bit helpless, as if someone is hijacking the Google My Business profile you’ve worked so hard on. You start to ask questions like, “Has anybody ever heard of this guy?" “Who is this person? I’ve never heard of them!“
Your reaction is justified. What gives anyone the right to request a transfer of your Google My Business profile? Well, they really don’t but, Google has no way of preventing this fraud.
To answer that question, we have to look at the flip side. As an Atlanta Website Design company, we here at Webstuffguy.com manage dozens and dozens of Google My Business profiles for our clients. We periodically come to situations where this “Request Ownership" tool is actually quite handy.
The easiest example is when a business is being bought out by another company. Along with handing over the website, passwords, and other administrative things, the Google My Business page also needs to be passed along to the new owner.
The idea is that you send a request for transfer of ownership, and the recipient receives the request, and then accepts it.
Another example is when the Google My Business profile page has been abandoned for whatever reasons, yet still appears in Google Map searches. Perhaps that business address now belongs to a new company who cannot create a business page because it would share the same address.
The idea here is to request ownership of the page for the sake of then marking it as “business no longer exists." Otherwise, the business page has just “gone rogue."
Google has a rule. If you don’t respond to this email request, the scammer may end up having the page transferred over to them. They are banking on the hopes that you don’t check your email often, or that the email linked to the account is one you never log into.
So Why Would Anyone Want Your Google My Business Profile?
Here is what Google states will happen if you are the one sending a transfer ownership request, in their own words:
After you request ownership, the current profile owner has 3 days to respond. To check the status of your request, sign in to Business Profile or click the link in your confirmation email.
So now that you know that you only have 3 days to answer, it’s important to reply to the email right away and deny the request. It’s a very simple option. There is even a field where you can leave a “nice little message" to the requester.
Well, until Google figures out a way, there is no way to stop any random person from requesting ownership. They can send as many requests as they want. And you will keep getting the requests and you will have to keep responding to them. If you really want to report it and hope that Google will perhaps do something about it, you can try to reach out to them here.
We live in a world where scumbag scammers have nothing better to do with their lives. It’s an unfortunate part of our life. From people trying to get you to pay them for your domain, to spam emails threatening to sue you for photos on your website, there is no end in site. So stay sharp, and stay ahead of the game.