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BBB is advising businesses to be suspicious of messages sent to your Google Business Profile page. BBB has learned of several phishing attempts that are trying to engage business owners.
Messages to your Google Business Profile page are a great way to interact with customers, who can ask about special promotions, changing business hours or anything else related to your business. But what happens when the latest query has nothing to do with your business? And when you respond with the correct information, the “customer” stays on the original line of questioning?
In that case, you’re probably dealing with someone who’s trying to scam you. These scammers send out hundreds, if not thousands, of the same question hoping someone will bite. This phishing technique often pays off, even if virtually everyone who receives the spammed message ignores it. Because they only need a few bites. Better Business Bureau of Central New England recently received a number of these phishing attempts in its own Google Business Profile.
How the scam works
One exchange started this way:
“Greetings, My name is ________________. Please I will be needing your service on my newly bought property I want the whole roof replacement tear off and replaced with a new architectural shingles, will you be able to help me please? “
When BBB suggested they call back during business hours, it received this reply:
“Thanks for the swift response, please advise if you are the owner of the business and also do you accept credit card as method of payment because that will be my means of payment, and also do you have a cell phone number I can text you the house address and you can provide me with an estimate as sonn as possible.”
Clearly, the scammers are hoping to find a roofer among the many texts they send out because the reply remains the same no matter the answer.
Just a few days later, BBB received another message on its Google Business Profile:
“Hello this is Mark, did you still offer hardwood flooring service in your company?”
BBB responded that it was closed, and instructed the message writer to call during business hours. BBB provided the phone number. The suspected scammer replied:
“Okay, I just purchase a new house here and I will need you to help me tear out the old floor and install a new one kindly let me know if you do service that area?”
Again, it would appear to be an automated message based on receiving a reply of any kind. When BBB replied with the same message it sent earlier, asking to call during business hours, the possible scammer replied:
“I will prefer you go look at the job so you can come out with the accurate estimate but I want you to know that I’m currently on a missionary trip so I won’t be meeting you at this time and I need the work done before am back by April so let me know if you can finish the project before then and I hope this wouldn’t be a problem?”
In both cases, the biggest red flag is easy to spot. When BBB responded with its normal business hours, the scammer pressed on with more questions. While both exchanges were obvious phishing attempts due to the roofing question or the removal of floors, it might not have been so obvious to the roofing or flooring contractor who receives the same message.
It’s important in situations like these to take a moment before you respond. Scammers are trying to get you to act quickly without thinking. They are trying to engage you in some sort of transaction that will cost you money. Much like when scammers are phishing through text messages or emails, people should always be wary of unsolicited communication. It’s important to have your antenna up and not fall victim to the latest scam.
Your Google Business Profile is another valuable tool for businesses to stay connected to customers, but as with all popular tools, the scammers see opportunity. Make sure you are prepared.
BBB offers these tips when dealing with unsolicited messages.
Be skeptical – Strangers on the internet can pretend to be anyone. Question motives behind both solicited and unsolicited messages.
Check for spelling and grammatical errors – While not all scammers have poor grammar, many fraudsters who are located off-shore do. Carefully check over communications and analyze them for any inconsistencies.
Guard personal information and photos – Scammers may try to solicit personal information through methods such as cold calls, text messages, or emails. Be mindful of this, and always verify, when possible, the organization or individual you are speaking to through a third-party or video conferencing software. Also, remember that any photo you upload on social media can be stolen and used by a scammer.
For more information
Read up on this scam where scammers try to take over your Google Business Profile.
Read up on the power of customer reviews. Learn more about scams targeting small businesses.
If you’ve spotted a scam, report it to BBB Scam Tracker, even if you didn’t fall victim or lose any money. Your report can help others avoid common scam tactics.
Stay up to date on the latest scams by subscribing to BBB’s weekly Scam Alerts email. Learn how to spot a scam at BBB.org/SpotaScam.
BBB serving Central and Western Massachusetts and Northeastern Connecticut contributed this article.