Recently we started receiving emails from Google letting us know that someone is claiming ownership of our Google My Business (GMB) profile. The emails themselves are not fake – they are valid emails from Google – however, they contain fraudulent ownership requests from scammers/bots trying to access our GMB profile.
What is the purpose of this particular scam? I honestly don’t know, but what I DO know is that it will be a big pain in the you-know-what if we lose ownership of our GMB listing that we’ve worked hard to build, optimize and gather reviews on.
What Should You Do If Someone Requests Ownership Access of Your GMB Account?
Let me start by saying that I would NOT recommend ignoring these emails. Here’s why: from my past experience in claiming ownership of GMB listings that clients are unable to access for one reason or another, if a GMB listing ownership request goes ignored by the current owner Google can approve the ownership request allowing the person/scammer/bot to claim the page as their own.
This rule is mentioned by Google My Business Help under the What to do after you’ve requested ownership section. It says someone “might have the option to claim the profile” however every time I’ve requested access with no response, Google has granted me ownership of the page, so ignoring the request is not a risk I’d be willing to take.
My advice if you receive one of these emails is to choose to hit the “Review Request” button in the email and then follow the steps to reject the request. The scammer will be notified that their request was rejected, but your GMB account will be safe. Heads up – when you reject the request you’ll probably receive a few more from different names that you’ll have to reject as well.
What Can Be Done About This Issue?
As far as I know, nothing is in place to stop this from happening. Being able to claim a currently owned and verified GMB listing is important in certain situations – like if you’re employee created your GMB listing and then left the company without turning it over to you. In a scenario like that you need to be able to get ownership access to what is rightfully yours. Unfortunately this means that others can try to take advantage of that opportunity.
In order to stay on top of scams like this, business owners need to be hands-on with their GMB accounts.
Here are a few tips to help you be proactive with your GMB account:
- Make sure all your business information is up to date on your GMB listing. If Google is to email, call or send you any sort of verification your information all needs to be current to ensure you receive their communications.
- Always monitor the email connected to your GMB listing. If you’re like me and get overwhelmed by emails you can always set up a special folder for Google My Business emails to automatically route to and then just check the folder once a day for any important communications.
- Set up the Google 2-Step Verification on your Google account. When enabled the Google 2-Step Verification security feature will send you a verification code every time someone attempts to login to your account. You then use that verification code to confirm that it's you and log in to your account. If you receive the verification code and it's not you trying to login you can report it and avoid your account being accessed by the wrong person.
As we all know, there are lots of scams out there that business owners can fall victim to. Monitoring your Google account is just one way to stay vigilant in maintaining your businesses online presence.