Google against fake businesses on Maps

According to a study, carried out in collaboration with the University of San Diego, there are more than 100 thousand fake business listings on Google Maps

Have you ever opened Google Maps to look for a restaurant or a store and not found it, or worse yet, found it on the virtual map but not in reality? To combat scammers on Google Maps, Mountain View is updating its verification systems for business premises on the map service.

A research funded by Google has shown that many scammers exploit Maps to generate a profit by listing premises that are not real or different from those shown on the famous Mountain View map service. The study, carried out in collaboration with the University of San Diego, has brought to light at least 100 thousand fraudulent listings within Google Maps. Google has discovered that there are several ways to exploit Maps in an illegal way and increase the profit of a company or a malicious person. That's why it has decided that it will modify its verification system of business premises.

The most common methods to cheat Google Maps

The most trivial method used on Maps is to create false points of sale (virtual, we could say), scattered a bit 'throughout the city. In this way, from any point the user performs a geolocalized search, the store will appear to be the closest, gaining new customers and positions in the Google SERP. Another widespread technique, but much more sophisticated, is the creation of fake websites to be linked to Google Maps profiles of activities such as restaurants and hotels without an Internet portal. This trick allows fraudsters to "intercept" reservations and payments from unsuspecting customers. A double scam, in short, that affects both businesses and customers. There are also those who "take possession" of other commercial activities, creating false profiles and placing the point of sale in a different place than the one in which it is located.

How will Google's verification system change

To facilitate such behaviors has contributed the identity verification system adopted, until recently, by Google. After creating the business on Google Maps, one had to complete the procedure by entering a numerical code printed on a postcard sent to the newly registered address.  Technique easily circumvented by criminals who had Google postcards sent to a nearby address and then entered the fake company. Now Google will prohibit the same store from having multiple locations spread across the same city unless it proves it's a chain. It has also created algorithms to detect fake sites on Maps and those containing spam and malware. According to Google, this system will block 70% of the false listings now present.

How to defend yourself from scam attempts

The weapons available to merchants and managers of restaurants and hotels are not many. First of all, they need to register their business on Google Maps, and then periodically check that no one else has intervened to change any data or aspect of their business. A task that can be completely automated thanks to IOL Connect, the Italia Online tool designed for SMEs that want to increase their presence on the web.

Thanks to the Web Scanner, in fact, you can check that the data of your business on the web are correct, while IOL Connect allows you to intervene in case of errors. In this way you can manage your online presence directly, correcting incorrect information quickly and easily.