Google Cracks Down on Robocalls That Mislead Small Businesses

google robocalls

Google today cracked down on robocallers that make illegal, recorded solicitation calls concerning local business listings and other Google services.

The recordings imply the callers are representing Google. But they really are independent firms attempting to sell their services to small businesses using misrepresentation.

Google’s action includes setting up an online security center about robocall scams. Included on that site is a form to report robocall activity.

Google also filed a lawsuit against a marketing agency that it alleges is making such robocalls.  The lawsuit, against Local Lighthouse Corp. of Tustin, California, was filed in federal court for the Northern District of California. A copy of the lawsuit complaint is embedded below (and found here).

How Robocallers Mislead Small Businesses

According to Google, some firms use these illegal robocalling tactics to try to trick local businesses into hiring them for services. Some of these shady firms have even hijacked local business listings through asking for passwords to local business listing dashboards.

These callers bombard small business people with misleading offers to improve search rankings, improve AdWords positions, or improve their ‘Google My Business’ profiles.

Small Business Deals

Despite the implication in some recordings that the firms are calling on official Google business, Google says it has nothing to do with the calls.

In an announcement about today’s moves, Brad Wetherall, Google My Business Operations Manager, wrote:

“You’re eating dinner with your family when the phone rings, and you see a phone number that you don’t recognize. You answer and hear a recording: ‘It’s extremely urgent that we speak to the business owner! We’ve tried to reach you numerous times. Our records indicate that your Google Business Listing has not been claimed.’

This is a common type of robocall, or automated phone call that delivers a pre­recorded message to sell or market services. Some, like informational notices from a doctor’s office, airline or pharmacy, can be useful and are allowed by law. Many others, however, are both useless and illegal in the United States. As the FTC explains: ‘if the recording is a sales message and you haven’t given your written permission to get calls from the company on the other end, the call is illegal.'”

Google says it has received hundreds of complaints in 2015 alone about so-called Google robocalls.

The Federal Communications Commission said it received over 214,000 complaints about robocalling in general last year. And another federal agency, the Federal Trade Commission, said it filed lawsuits against 600 companies responsible for billions of illegal robocalls.

What To Do About Google Robocalls Scams

If you receive such robocalls from companies suggesting they are from or working with Google, go to the robocall security center. This center contains educational information about your rights and what you can do about robocalls.

Google advises to protect yourself with these tips:

When You Might Receive a LEGITIMATE Google Call

Finally, the security center verbiage points out that there are times when someone from Google may be calling you on legitimate business.

How do you know when it’s really someone from Google contacting you? The center states:

“Unless you specifically requested an automated call, a call from Google will always be from a live person, not a recorded voice. Any emails from Google should come from an email address ending in ‘'”

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Anita Campbell Anita Campbell is the Founder, CEO and Publisher of Small Business Trends and has been following trends in small businesses since 2003. She is the owner of BizSugar, a social media site for small businesses.

8 Reactions
  1. This is great news, as these calls have proliferated in past months.

    Savvy entrepreneurs recognize the difference in these solicitations versus aspiring owners who may not. Hopefully, these calls will truly subside.

    • Hi Shirley, that’s a great point. Not everyone can tell the difference between who’s calling or not. The last thing an aspiring entrepreneur needs is to get caught up with scammers.

      And here’s another thought your comment triggered: where there’s smoke there’s fire. These same companies that would use these techniques probably engage in other sneaky and misleading sales tactics. If they have no problem with robocalling and implying they represent Google, what else will they stoop to?


  2. Though not a recording. In Australia we get a lot of calls “from Google” when they are not really from Google but are selling seo or listing services. Very similar. If google were to call I would now assume that it is one of these scams.

    • Hi Nigel, I think your point is an important one, and it goes exactly to why it appears that Google filed the lawsuit. Reading the lawsuit, much of Google’s claims are for trademark violations and related claims about the robocaller’s activities putting Google’s business reputation in a bad light.

      I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if Google employees with legitimate reasons to contact small businesses didn’t get the phone hung up on them!


  3. It’s about time that they do this. There are so many people doing this in hopes of landing clients. It is about time that they moderate it or put a stop to it.

    • Hi Aira, I agree that this is a welcome move, for sure.

      Small business owners like me are busy. I’ve gotten some of these kinds of recorded calls — I even get recordings over Skype! I don’t want to spend my limited time fending off these solicitations. I know other business owners feel the same way.

      And the worst part is, if you make the mistake of engaging with these companies by calling them back, they put high pressure sales tactics on you. Give them an inch and they’ll try to take a mile.

      – Anita

  4. This is great to hear and I learnt alot about the processes behind these scams from this post! I hope a permanent stop can be put to them.

  5. This scam case is absolutely outrageous, simply their unethical tactics are very dangerous to small business companies, espcially those who are not really tech-savvy and don’t know what they are dealing with.

    Thanks for the post! This is really an alert for all of us as small business owners.