/ Shopping, Technology

Scam watch: Google Maps listing scam

Keep up to date and avoid signing up to contracts with cold callers. Here’s how one business owner was asked to pay to remain listed on Google Maps…

John Dyer told us: I received a cold call from a business claiming to be part of Google Maps, telling me that my company’s listing was due for renewal.

The caller said it is now a chargeable service for businesses and that they would delete my entry if I didn’t pay the fee.

I agreed and was passed over to their line manager, who took me through a recorded verbal 12-month rolling contract and said an invoice would be due in 14 days.

The next day I received an invoice that looked rather unprofessional. At this point, I started to smell a rat, so went online and saw many complaints of similar scams. From the 14th day onwards, I have been receiving daily demanding phone calls. I’ve reported the company to trading standards, which seems to be well aware of these activities and told me not to pay anything.

Our say on cold calling scams

We say: A seller pretending to be another company and carrying out practices such as these may be guilty of a criminal offence. To be an offence, the seller’s commercial practice must involve a misleading action or omission, or an aggressive practice.

A misleading action could be the seller providing false information about which company they are calling on behalf of. A misleading omission could be hiding the fact that you can cancel the telephone contract (up until the 14th day after the day on which the contract is agreed). An aggressive practice could be persistent phone calls persuading you to pay up under the telephone contract where you otherwise wouldn’t have done so. In this instance, you were right to contact trading standards.

Have you been a victim of this scam or a similar one? Do you have any tips for spotting one of these cold call scams?

Comments
Member

A couple of years ago, someone phoned on behalf of O2 to offer me a good deal on a latest model mobile phone.

Her patter went: I am calling on behalf of O2, this is the deal, I will sign you up.

I would never sign up to anything from a cold call but asked what the deal was so I could check out the phone they were offering me. If it had really interested me, I would have gone to a shop, looked at the phone and ask them to price match.

The phone on offer was bottom of the range and a really bad deal.

Next day the person rang thinking she had a sale, I thought to ask who she worked for and it was not O2. She knew my name and my provider and saying she was calling on behalf of O2, would have fooled a lot of people.

Their phone number which they change every couple of months is added to my ignore list, and although I keep telling them I am not interested and to take me off their list, they keep trying.

Member

I can honestly say that I have never bought any goods or services as a result of a cold call. I have never trusted unsolicited phone calls and being bombarded with nuisance calls has hardened my resolve not to have anything to do with them. If I receive marketing calls from companies I use, I tell them that they must stop or they will lose my custom. I have very rarely had another call.

I don’t like haggling on principle because it pushes up prices for those who may not be able to do it, for example some elderly or disabled people. Simply saying that you plan to stop using a company can now produce generous discounts.

As I see it, you can avoid scams by not buying from phone or doorstep callers. Dealing with email scams is more of a problem. Assume these are scams and if uncertain, get the company’s number from their website (not the email) and call the company.

As with shoplifting, even those who are not victim of scams will be contributing to the cost of dealing with them.

Member
Lynn says:
9 February 2015

I do know they can be pests and a lot of people do get caught. I have had the one where they claim to be from microsoft saying there is a fault on your computer, they get you to log in and then capture your computer, plant a virus and then charge you to remove it. Fortunately my daughter had heard of it and we just put the phone down. My local phone company told me they knew of it but could not block the calls as they were coming from out of the country.

My good one is a company rang me about Solar Panels I made an appointment for when my daughter was in. I did a bit of research and thought it looked like a good idea, I got several quotes and had them fitted. One of the best things I have ever done. I get a real chuffty when the power company sends me a cheque every 3 months.

My point is I would not have probably heard or considered them affordable with out a cold call. It’s the usual swings and roundabouts.

Member
Bob says:
5 March 2015

I’ve had calls same as this and the best way is to put the phone down Microsoft do not monitor computers just think, how could they with the millions if not billions of computers, monitor them all. End the call, also end or clear,phone calls, texts or emails allegedly from your bank/building society or credit card company asking you to log in to your account they are scams to collect your log in details so they can clear your bank account. Repeat End the call, Clear the Texts, Delete the email they are SCAMS. Any problems with your account the company will always request you go in to your local branch to sort it out never by phone, text or email.

Member
Trevor says:
12 February 2015

Yes I have had a similar experience with the Google maps scam but I didn’t realize it was a scam at the time. Just over a year ago I was called by a company who said that they represented Google maps and my listing was due for renewal. It all sounded very plausible, so I paid the £90 + vat and thought that was that. However, soon after, I was inundate with calls from companies with similar sounding names, all claiming the same thing. Some time later I received an A5 size, very unprofessional letter, supposedly from Google UK, with instructions on how to activate my listing. I never did activate my listing, because by this time I was very suspicious and didn’t want to be drawn in any further. A few weeks later, I had a saying that my listing was ready to be activated and demanded £200 + vat from me to do so. I refused to pay, there was never any mention of a further £200 to pay and I asked them not to activate my listing and I would not pay any more. have since been inundated with calls, from various numbers, some withheld numbers, demanding the £200, which has now been called a rolling contract, or a three years for the price of two, neither of which were ever mentioned before. It has now got to the point where I am afraid to pick up the phone if I don’t recognise the number, or if it is a withheld number, because often it this demand for money again. They come through both on my land line and mobile. I know that I shouldn’t have fallen for this in the first place, I can’t believe I did but I am at my wits end with this now and really don’t know what to do. I would appreciate any help and advice. Needless to say, I have not paid any further money to these people, who ever they are.

Member

I am so sorry for you experience, I wish there was something I could suggest to help.

Member

Hi Trevor, I’m sorry to hear about what’s happened to you. Have you had a visit to our helpful consumer rights page about nuisance calls? I’m certain you’d find the content useful:

http://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/action/how-to-stop-nuisance-phone-calls-

Member
Trevor says:
13 February 2015

Thank you David, yes I have had a look and it is very helpful. I am already registered with TPS but calls still come through. I have blocked a lot of numbers but they just come through on my mobile, which I can’t block at the moment. My next step is to contact Trading Standards again, I did do this a while ago, they said they were aware of the problem but did not have the resources to do anything about it. I will keep trying, thanks for your help.

Member