Google My Business

Hijacked Google My Business Listings On The Rise

By November 6, 2020 November 8th, 2020 6 Comments
Hijacked GMB Listing
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Last Updated on November 8, 2020

In the last couple of months, we’re seeing a large increase in the number of Google My Business listings that are getting hijacked.  A hijack is when a malevolent user gets a hold of a listing that they don’t own and changes the core information on it to something that they can benefit from.

For example, weeks ago, this listing was called “Car Accident Lawyer Rosenberg” and the phone number on it led to a phone tree that sells leads to personal injury lawyers.

After reporting it to Google My Business via the Redressal Form it returned to its original state.  The increase in this type of spam likely explains why we’re also seeing an increase in the number of suspensions.

 

How are users hijacking these listings?

There are a number of sketchy tactics that these people utilize.  These people have been at it for years and every time Google cracks down on the tactic they’re using, they come up with a new one.  Hijacking just appears to be the latest thing that’s “working”.

One of the ways I believe that someone can effectively hijack a listing is to request access to it via the “claim this business” label that appears in the Knowledge Panel.  We are seeing a huge increase in the number of complaints from users that are getting email requests to manage their listing from people they don’t recognize.  This thread on the GMB forum about the issue has over 80 responses.  The issue has been brought up to Google several times.

If you get one of these emails, my recommendation is to simply delete it.  Also, it’s a very good idea not to have tons of managers on your Google My Business listing.  Having more users increases the likeliness that one of them could accidentally click it and give an unauthorized party control of your business listing.

 

 

 

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6 Comments

  • Sooo. . . it says “If you get one of these emails, my recommendation is to simply delete it.” but no where else in the post is there a reference to an email. Are you saying if someone clicks “claim this business” that an email is sent out? could you please update/clarify?

  • NW says:

    Partly this is Google’s fault. Now even verified and claimed Listings say “own this business?” as if it is unclaimed and unverified. When I have clicked on two listings to determine if it really was claimed and verified, or unclaimed, without any intervening steps, google threw it into my account as a manager. And probably did send them an email saying that I was attempting to take control of their site when I wasn’t. Very annoying. And while everyone else is working from home with laptops google closed down the Google my Business call in help center. While I am having a challenge permantly erasing a listing that Google randomly placed in the middle of an empty lot with a dead phone number. And my only options are ‘removed’ which takes it out of my account or ‘permanently closed’ which leaves it visible to the public.

  • Todd says:

    Curious about the suggestion to “simply delete it” regarding the ‘request to manage’ emails, instead of rejecting the request.

    • Joy Hawkins says:

      Hey Todd,

      I just avoid clicking links on emails if I’m not 100% clear what it is. I’ve heard of spam being sent appearing to be from Google so deleting it just seems faster and easier with the least amount of bad outcomes.

  • RE says:

    I manage over 3,000 branch locations for a client and I get access requests on a daily basis – I reject them all with a customised rejection note.
    The trouble with the rejecting or ignoring a request is that after 3 days (I think) Google then gives the requester the option to verify themselves via postcard. Often the requestees I deal with are based in the same building so can be easier to intercept the mail if it first goes to a building reception.
    Part of the problem I’ve experienced is new businesses attempt to claim one of ours as their own listings flag as duplicates. This tends to be because they don’t choose to ‘create a business with this name’ during set up, as they view another business in the drop down list of potential matches – see the same/similar address and click that – creating a duplicate – or annoyingly, throwing out one of our long-standing locations as the duplicate!

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