/ 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
Profile photo of alfa
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.

Profile photo of wavechange
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.

Profile photo of Andrew Collins
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

Hi all

I just received a call from a lady claiming that she worked for Google/maps. Again, saying that the verbal contract I took out twelve months ago is up for renewal. I told her that didn’t recall dealing with them in the past. She claimed that if I wish to cancel the “contract” there would be a £30 cancellation fee and failing to pay will resort in debt collection. I did a 1471 and the call came from a mobile number…

I called trading standards and logged everything. The caller was very convincing but got a tad shirty when I refused to pay.

Just a heads up if anyone comes across this issue too.

Member
Mathew wesley says:
16 September 2016

Hi everyone,
I recently found out i was working for a scam company, which would be saying that your business is not set up on google my business and you havent yet claimed your listings . They would offer you a free 30 day trial and after that they will get back in touch and if you agree after that to pay
£249+VAT then they will also chuck in extra invoices and make you pay ridiculous amounts of money!! when you do not pay you be approached by bailifs. So to conclude, just dont accept any cold calls and if you do just say “you already have what there offering you. Trading standards has been contacted several times from me and my colegues and they say nothing can be done at the moment.

Profile photo of duncan lucas
Member

Mathew most of the posters complaining of scammers on Which dont know who is actually calling them , you are in the unique position of knowing who the scammers are I take it you cant name them because you work for them ? If you cant tell us could you tell us why Trading Standards say they cant do anything ? I am a bit puzzled I found a website that tells you how a business can set up GMB (Google My Business ) for free and there are many Google websites that help you . I am no friend of Google but I appreciate many businesses would use it .Any business must be shrewd to a certain extent and I find it hard to understand why business men/women would be “taken in ” ?

Member
Anon says:
3 November 2016

pretty sure it’s map registrations, they keep trying to get me to use them when we already have our business registered on google.

Member
Denise says:
14 December 2016

Hi do you still work there?
I’ve been offered a job there I’m tempted to work there for the great salary but I have my reservations please advise should I seek alternative employment?

Member
Tammy says:
17 January 2017

Hi Matthew, Sorry to bother you but think you may be able to help me. I work ata company and back in December I said yes to them sending me the pin to set up the 30 day free trial. Back in December we were very busy when the pin arrived so I put it to one side. I then received about 3 or 4 phoen calls per day asking me or somone who works with me to give them the pin number to go ahead. thank fully we didn’t and due to the haslle I had from that I then decided to not go ahead at all with it. I told them this and then I received a further 4 pin numbers over the past 4 / 5 weeks. Each time a new pin number is sent I receive a phone call asking us to verify the pin to go ahead etc. I have now told them on several occasions that we do not want to go ahead, to delet our name, number and file but still we are receving calls. IThe last 2 calls, today and yesterday, i have told them that I am reporting them to trading standards and seaking legal advice. Do you have any further advice on how i can get them to stop or is it just a case of being consisten and patient?? They are really starting to annoy me now. Thanks for any advice you can give.

Profile photo of Lauren Deitz
Member

Hi Tammy, what you’re doing is the advice that we gave in the article above. If you haven’t spoken to Trading Standards yet, then it may be helpful to do so and see what they may be able to help you with here. In terms of legal advice, that’s not something we’re able to do here as we’re not qualified to do so. If you think you might need legal help then you may wish to speak to your company’s lawyers.

Member

Denise…Map Reg Leeds …im sure some good people work there ..But my experience of them is extremely negative …I would call them evil and worse……..You could go under cover …..find out how they obtain the verification code ……

[Sorry, your comment has been edited to align with our Community Guidelines. Thanks, mods]

Member
Desmond Fleet says:
30 January 2017

Mathew…..Map Registration s in Leeds …..have been chasing me for the last 6 months……after someone rang pretending to be Google to get the verification code ..30 day trial …they rang me after 20 days ….I told them within 30 days that I didn’t want it …they still call…..I have told them to take me to court..im not paying this company …I would rather go to court.

[Sorry, your comment has been edited to align with our Community Guidelines. Thanks, mods]

Member

Hello, my name is Alex. I worked at map registrations in Leeds up until yesterday. Now to everyone who has been scammed, I am truly sorry . First I will explain my job and what I was told to do. And then I will explain about the company. I worked on the sales team at map registrations. I had to cold call business owners or directors and offer them a 30 day free trial to claim the Google listing for their business. This listing would appear on google maps, Google plus and Google search. Now what a lot of people don’t know is that you can actually claim your listing yourself with little effort and time and for free. So I would get people to have a 30 day free trial. We never took card details so we couldn’t charge them if they wanted to stop it after the 30 days. A lot of people said yes. Either they don’t know better and thought it was a requirement, or they just thought it would be fine as I didn’t take their card details. Now the problem started after the 30 day. After the 30 day free trial a member of our staff would ring the customer to see if they wanted to continue the service. If they did want to continue the service. They were supposed to be charged £249 + vat for 12 months. However, a lot of people (if not all of them) got over charged/ charged for changing details or charged for admin fees. after 12 months they would get another phone call and they would have the same issue again. If a customer had the 30 day free trial and decided not to go ahead with it. Then the call centre used to ring them constantly until they agreed. Or they would lie and tell them that they had to have a listing on Google. I hope this helps people not get scammed by Map registrations in the future.

Member

Hi Alex, thank you for your information about Map Registrations. I, myself have recently been taken in by this company. I was called at a very busy time and believed I was speaking with Google Maps. I stupidly gave them the code for the listing and since then have had numerous telephone calls demanding £249 + VAT. I have not paid this and am now being threatened with legal action. I have requested an email stating that they will not charge for changing ownership which I have now received but I still do not want to pay them. Can someone let me know if I should just pay and move on to get them off our backs?

Member
Alex perry says:
17 October 2016

No. don’t pay. They have no authority to take that money!!! If you don’t stand up to them. They will keep getting away with it. I have reported them to trading standards but they haven’t done anything yet. I’m sorry you got taken in. Never buy anything off a telephone even if it seems free.

Member
Anon says:
3 November 2016

Don’t pay them a penny, they’re chancers… i’d love to see them try to take you to court for this.

Member
john says:
11 October 2016

i am being harassed and bullied by map registrations at this moment- my contract with them ends in november 2016-they phone me several times a day- i told them at the end of september that i no longer wished to continue with them- they say i had at an earlier date verbally agreed to continue and demand £199 plus vat from me-i spoke to leeds local trading office who told me to send a letter by recorded delivery stating that i wished not to renew the agreement-i did this on 7th october and they have phoned me twice today, 11th october-they are persistent and nasty people.

Member
Alex perry says:
17 October 2016

I know! Can you block there number? As they don’t actually use a withheld number. Sorry to hear you’re being hassled! They’re nasty people. And the people that work there should be ashamed. Once I found out how the company operated I was out of there. And I’ve not told you half the stuff that goes on there! I hope you get things resolved

Member
Anon says:
3 November 2016

Don’t pay them a penny and claim your business page back from them. Google get my page back from map registrations and there are step by step instructions on how to get your profile back. They are scam artists and don;t have a leg to stand on.

Profile photo of Tammy2102
Member

I don’t suppose you could provide me the address for them could you John? I am cuirently having issues with them!!

Member
scott says:
7 December 2016

I’ve had the same problem map registrations. I did the first year as I thought they were part of Google but when it came to renew said it was a rolling contract and I had to pay again. I’ve refused but they keep calling saying they have a recording of me agreeing to pay and keep threatening to play it to me as proof. They haven’t done yet, but its very stressful.

Member
Desmond Fleet says:
30 January 2017

[Sorry, your comment has been removed to align with our Community Guidelines. Thanks, mods]

Member
Tracy says:
10 May 2017

Hi. Has anyone ever got any legal advice in dealing with Map Registrations? They are no longer trading however we have now started having a company called Search Point UK contact us but the dates of incorporation / dissolving of these companies dont match with invoices and services they have supposedly provided us with. We now have a debt collection agency contacting us on “behalf” of Map Registrations (who dont exist). I have been trying to get advice and going to take advantage of the free 30 minute consultation via Business Support Service but wondered if anyone had ever gone this far with them?
Thanks

Profile photo of duncan lucas
Member

Tracy ,have a read of : http://onlineownership.com/businesses-beware-of-map-registrations/ to give you an idea of the background. Also click on : https://conversation.which.co.uk/technology/google-maps-listing-scam/ . Searchpoint UK is a digital marketing business operating in the UK on behalf of Google My Business Listings but it also brings up on the same URL as a quality searches . insurance +compliance services for the conveyancer including boundary searches aka- Vesey partnership under -Searchpoint. The company is also into Landmark rulings for shale gas extraction there is more to this company than meets the eye . I will try and find out if it “leans on people ” on behalf of other parties.

Member
Annie says:
5 June 2017

I too was contacted by Map Registrations around 2 years ago and believed them to be Google Maps. When the invoice and paperwork arrived it was the first time I realised it was not Google Maps. So, I told them I would not be paying the invoice and to give me back ownership of the Google page. Thereby, a protracted battle of wills commenced, constant daily phonecalls from them, letters threatening action, etc. Eventually around 6 weeks ago, Google gave us our page back and around the same time we received a letter from a debt collection company. I contacted this company and explained that I believed I was speaking with Google Maps and they then sent a recording of our original telephone conversation. The recording proved that at no point whatsoever was the name “Map Registrations” mentioned. It is clear that I thought they were Google Maps and even mention Google Maps during the conversation to confirm that was who they were. The debt collection company then emailed me to confirm they would be taking no further action and I have heard nothing since. I sincerely hope this is the end of it, and that no other small business is misled in this way. These are not huge amounts of money and there is a strong urge to just pay it to get rid of them as we are all very busy running businesses but I have learned a serious lesson from this and will not be duped again.

Profile photo of duncan lucas
Member

In strictly legal terms Tracy if you have been invoiced for services that dont conform in times and dates to the known services you applied for originally that document would not stand up in court . I would take legal advice on this from a lawyer used to company legislation. Wrongly invoicing you could (in certain circumstances ) be guilty of fraud. I must add IF — you have had services carried out to your satisfaction or PART thereof you must pay for that portion that conforms to your agreed contract.

Profile photo of Tracywoods80
Member

Thank you duncanlucas. The ownershiponline URL was the first I saw once I started to suspect a scam so its good to know others are noticing this as well. I am awaiting an appointment with a lawyer to talk this through. I have done some research into the owners of the 2 companies through Companies House etc and there are some links. It is looking like Search Point may be a pheonix company from Map Registrations.
In terms of services SearchPoint have sent us printouts of what our “page” should look like and I have done some searching online and can not find it at all. The printouts are on very cheap crumpled paper and it looks like they have just lifted an image off our existing webpage in the hope that we will be fooled by this. I have requested some information from Google as well to try to prove that we have never had any service delivered to us but to this point they have not been particularly helpful but I will chase. If anyone hears anymore I would really appreciate any information that would help me.
I have also reported both companies to Trading Standards but unfortunately you don’t actually get any feedback from them once you have reported them.
Thanks again.

Member
Zoe Fox says:
11 October 2017

I work for a very small charity, I also happen to run a digital marketing agency and that involves us setting up business pages for our clients. Someone called the charity offering a business listing trial and the person that called left my colleague under the impression that the person calling was from Google.

A couple of days later we received a pin number from Google and the company called back again to obtain the pin. The Director of the charity took the initial call but was unable to hear clearly what the person was saying. I took over that call again under the impression that they were from Google, the person I spoke to was very pushy and I didn’t appreciate her tone of voice, non the less I gave her the pin. A short while afterwards we received a letter from the company Search Point UK, this was the first time it became clear to me that it had nothing to do with Google, alarm bells started ringing for me, I turned over the document and noticed all of their concerning T&C’s. In my line of work I new these T&C’s appeared to be rather unethical to say the least. Granted no money has been exchanged but this is a very sneaky way of entrapping unwitting businesses.

I called them today to call them out on masquerading as Google, the person I spoke to said they would have been transparent in their initial call as they have their calls recorded and audited, when I requested a copy of the call she tried to fob me off saying that it wasn’t really necessary at this stage as we are only within the free trial period. I asked her to cancel the trial but as I was not the company director she was unable to take instruction from me, which is fair enough so we have sent an email requesting cancellation and the return full access and control of the page to the charity.

I’m just astonished that any business could operate in such a fashion.

Member
Susan Andrew says:
18 October 2017

My goodness. I’ve been fighting back and forward with this company for several week. When we got the initial invoice I ran it by my partner because I didn’t know what it was for as I do the admin from home. It turns out that they spoke to a junior member of staff who then ran it past my partner, they were both under the impression it was Google. I wrote a letter explaining that as it was a junior member of staff they had spoken to, she had no authority to sanction the agreement and we did not want to go ahead with it. They persisted in phoning the business and asking for her and of course they were directed to me as, who ever answers the phone to someone requesting payment of invoices will be directed to me. Since then it has been a repeat of this almost every day. I directed them to my letter and requested that if they did not want to reply to my letter they could e-mail me and I gave them the address for that, I heard nothing. Another time they said they would have to listen to the recording and get back to me, I said fine because that would settle it either way, me still thinking they were genuine and it could all be sorted out. Still I heard nothing but demands for payment. Just today I was thinking “Should I just pay it and be done?” but I decided to see just what was on offer and if indeed they were linked to Google in any way before I paid. I got out the invoice which had come in a nice glossy professional looking folder. Then whilst I was doing my research I came across this forum. So glad I did. I will get my partner to look at this, as I was fairly taken aback when someone mentioned re-claiming their page, I didn’t know we’d given it away. In the meantime I’m going to block the number at our business as I’m so sorry that my staff are being bothered with these phone calls.