With the inception of internet came the ability to be able to scam people with an endless amount of tactics. From viruses and malware to emails and phone calls. Digital marketing companies are always figuring out new ways to get you to be their paying customer. I am going to outline a couple of those ways in this post. Then I’m going to keep a growing list of the known phone numbers of fraudsters and scammers who are knowingly calling, striking fear and wasting the time of small businesses in San Diego.
Like many of you, I too am bombarded with telemarketers, scammers and robocallers. usually 3 times a day but sometimes up toward 10 times a day. I know it happens to more people than just me. My clients and people who attend my workshops are letting me know and asking, “Who are these people? Is it Google?” The short answer is “No!” I ask, is it a recording that starts out with, ” Your Google Listing is displaying incorrectly…” ?
Small businesses I work with look at me like I must know what I’m talking about. It’s because I do.
I’ve spent many hours on the phone with these types of companies. They don’t like it when they reach someone who is knowledgeable about Digital marketing, Website development, SEO and Social Media Marketing. They don’t like it because they expect business owners to not have a clue as to what they do or do not need for their online marketing purposes.
Who are these Robocallers if they are not Google?
To put a blanket statement like “these callers are all scammers” wouldn’t be 100% true. Spammers are more like it. Only because it may not be the company itself intentionally wanting to scam someone. It could very well be the bad actors within the company who is doing the fraud and the scams because they don’t know any better or they have to meet a quota of signups. That’s as far I go with giving the benefit of the doubt.
If at the onset of the call there is a voice coming from that company making a claim, such as, “Your Google business listing is displaying incorrectly…” or “Your Google Listing is at risk…” or “We’ve tried to call numerous times to verify your business on Google” then we now have a statement that doesn’t fit everybody and more importantly in regards to my clients. I know for a fact that my clients’ Google Business listings are 100% accurate, are verified and are in high ranking, but yet they still get these robo calls claiming otherwise. So at this point I blame the people running the company.
Let’s break it down a bit further… I’m going to answer the most frequently asked questions I get.
Question #1: Who’s calling me?
Robocallers can be a variety of things. Telemarketers for business loans and credit cards. IRS Scammers from India. But usually here in San Diego they are Digital Marketing companies.
It used to be if a business 2 business interaction was to happen it would happen because of an in-person meeting, an advertisement, Chamber of Commerce or word of mouth. Nowadays people are getting really lazy and down right rude. They will cold call. But not just any type of cold call. If you don’t give in to what they are selling, they get angry… bill collector angry.
Question #2: Why are these robocalls happening?
There are many reasons but let’s start off with the main reason. They need customers who will not ask many questions (or the right questions) and are willing to pay quickly. Unfortunately, this is the only way they know how to get new customers. They hope that you will trust them and look at them as being your savior. Don’t give into the fear.
Question #3: What happens if I answer these robocallers and what should I do?
Most of the calls are layout out very similar. From time to time they do change but the intention is always the same. Here are a list of red flags to watch out for during their intake process.
Red Flag #1
During the robo prompt you will be told to choose a number on your phone to talk to a person or choose another number to be taken off the call list. Unfortunately, if you want to be taken off the list and push the corresponding number, they will still continue to call you.
Red Flag #2
The marketing companies who are calling you are using a fear tactic. By telling you that your business is in some way hurting, you will get worried and want to listen to what they have to say or even pay them to fix the so-called problem. To some, their message sounds like you’ve been hacked and your business is under attack and have just become helpless.
In reality, they have no clue as to what is going on with your business listing or your website. Hence the reason they ask you for all your business information as soon as you reach a human inside that companies call center. In fact they don’t know much about SEO or even Web Design. The only thing they know is what they learn from out of date training material on Youtube or Blogs from around the web. At this point they are frauds.
Red Flag #3
Next they will give you a spiel on how you will not show up on Google if you do not fix all your business info. But wait… they say they can help you with that! It’s a lot of work but for only $300 a month they can insure that your business info gets spread across the internet into hundreds of online directories.
The reality: With a few strokes of some keys on their keyboard and a couple mouse clicks they will have a piece of software push your info out. Is that really worth $300 a month? Did they mention what happens if you stop paying them? Go ahead I dare you to ask… But wait there’s more.
You will also get a brand new website. Oh it doesn’t matter if you already have one… they will say, “Our website is better, We are from Google (or Google Partner), we know how Google works.”
The reality is that there are a few things that these scammers don’t know or refuse to practice. One of those things is Google doesn’t like a business to have multiple websites.
So why do they push getting another website? A few reasons… here’s the scam:
1. They want to have ownership of a Domain name that you will need later in the event that you want to move your website. To buy it back will usually cost you over $500. The scam works better if you already don’t have a website but want your staff to make changes to it.
2. They rely on the recurring revenue from you in order to stay in business and to scam others. There’s no money to be made in this industry without labor-free recurring revenue. Unless of course you, the local business owner, is willing to pay a designer what they are worth. I know from 23+ years of experience that smaller business won’t or cannot pay market price for many of the needed web services.
Question #4: Are there solutions and how do I defend against these types of Robocalls?
Yes there are a few different solutions. Keep in mind that the following solutions work for particular situations. Here are a few methods to consider.
Reporting the caller if they Claim to be working “with Google” or “for Google”
You will want to get as much information from these people as possible. including their real business name, address and phone number. Once you got some or all of the info you can contact Google directly using this webform. This will help Google track down the spammers.
Report these calls to the FCC
If you are in the US you can submit a complaint to via this form.
You may have to create and log in to an account on the FCC website.
Block the Number
You can try to block the phone number. Using VOIP and Smartphones is the easiest way to block a phone number. If you are on a traditional LAN line you might want to think about switching to a system where you can block phone numbers. Your local telephone provider should have several options to choose from.
But I must tell you, it can be unsettling when you know you’ve blocked a phone number but the company keeps calling using different phone numbers to get through. They will even try and use a local phone number to get you to answer, this is called masking or spoofing.
To help out those of you who are experiencing calls in the San Diego area, I am providing an ongoing list of phone numbers that I personally see come through and I have verified to be spammer telemarketers. I will keep adding to this list as I become aware of new phone numbers that these robocall / spammers use.
1-424-203-0411 Listen to the call from this phone on the Nomorobocall website: https://www.nomorobo.com/lookup/424-203-0411