Google Questions & Unofficial Answers: “Does Google Make Junk Solicitation Phone Calls?”

This is a new entry from my Google+ Community Google Questions & Unofficial Answers.

It seems like almost every day I get junk solicitation phone calls “from Google.” They call about my Google business local listings, about my not being on the first page of Google search results, and so on — and they want me to pay them to “fix” this stuff. When I look up the Caller ID numbers they use, I often finds pages of people claiming they’re Google phone numbers. Sometimes the Caller ID display actually says Google! Is Google really doing this?

Negative. NONE of these calls are from Google. Zero. Zilch. Nada.

These callers are inevitably “SEO” (Search Engine Optimization) scammers of one sort or another. They make millions of “cold calls” to businesses using public phone listings (from the Web or other sources) or using phone number lists purchased from brokers.

If you ever actually deal with them, you’ll find that their services typically range from useless to dangerous — “black hat” SEO firms often use illicit techniques to try boost search rank, which can result in your being demoted or even banned from Google search entirely.

These callers usually either falsely identify themselves as actually calling “from Google” — or they may say they’re “calling about your Google account” — or similar words to that effect.

Now about those “Google, Inc.” Caller ID numbers on these calls. They’re always fakes of one sort or another.

As you may have heard, Caller ID — which a relatively ancient control and signalling methodology not designed for the 21st century — is easily and widely spoofed with false names and numbers. You cannot put any reliance whatsoever on what Caller ID tells you these days.

For example, one common technique is for a scammer in some distant call center “boiler room” to set the Caller ID to a “local”-appearing number, sometimes combined with the name of a local business, in an attempt to make the call more attractive for you to answer. As you can imagine, the innocent parties whose names or numbers are abused in this manner are also victims of these spammers and scammers.

And that’s how these SEO crooks operate. They spoof the Caller ID system to falsely show numbers (and/or names) that are associated with Google — such as numbers used for 2-factor authentication calls or various Google Voice numbers — to try fool you into thinking that the calls themselves are coming from Google, Inc.

Various persons unaware of how this spoofing works then list those numbers on “spam alert” site pages claiming that the numbers indicate that Google is actually making the calls. They are incorrect — again, Google never is the source of such calls.

Also — and this is very important and an issue I touched on in some other Q&As on this page — Google NEVER uses the phone numbers you provide them for account recovery and/or 2-factor authentication for any other purpose without your explicit permission, never uses them for solicitation calls, doesn’t sell them to third parties — and … you get the idea. And by the way, you really do want to proactively set up account recovery and 2-factor — as per the Q&A items at:

https://plus.google.com/+LaurenWeinstein/posts/L3DcshM4Nmi

and:

https://plus.google.com/+LaurenWeinstein/posts/avKcX7QmASi

The bottom line is that none of those harassing, scammy SEO phone calls are from Google.

And frankly, you really don’t want to deal with any of the firms who are actually making those calls — unless you’re a masochist with money to burn who wants to ruin your site’s reputation, that is.

— Lauren —
I have consulted to Google, but I am not currently doing so — my opinions expressed here are mine alone.
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The correct term is “Internet” NOT “internet” — please don’t fall into the trap of using the latter. It’s just plain wrong!

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