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How to identify and report fraud on Google Maps

Googler
Googler

How to identify and report fraud on Google Maps

Have you ever come across a place on Google Maps that doesn’t really exist? How about a place with incorrect details that look suspicious? These edits violate the Google My Business guidelines and Local Guides guidelines, and they’re considered fraud.

 

People post fraud on Google Maps for the sake of profit-generating scams, which hurt legitimate businesses and make Maps less useful for everyone. You can help fight spam by reporting violations.

 

 

Keyword stuffing Article (1).pngMaps listings with keywords in their address fields

 

 

.:: How do I identify fraud on Google Maps? Look for the following.

 

  • Businesses that list a P.O. Box, post office or virtual office as an address. A business needs to have a real-world address to be listed on Google Maps. Virtual offices and shared workspaces are acceptable if they’re staffed during typical business hours, but be aware that using these types of places as addresses is a popular fraud technique. P.O. Boxes are OK in countries where they are essential, such as Kenya and the U.A.E.
  • Online-only businesses. Online businesses that don’t meet customers face-to-face are not eligible to be on Maps.
  • Businesses that don’t exist. If a business is on Maps but it not real should be reported.
  • Businesses that use employees’ addresses. The scam here is to make it appear that the business has locations in places where it doesn’t actually operate. If you see a business that seems to be in a purely residential area, this might be the reason.
  • Keyword “stuffing.” If you see search terms “stuffed” into place names or address fields, that’s a sign of a fraudulent listing.
  • Fake websites or phone numbers. For example, a fraudulent hotel listing might include a hotel booking site instead of a site for an individual business. If a business’s site seems broken or distributes malware, that’s a sign of a fraudulent listing.
  • Business impersonators: Some people create fake listings for real businesses, such as national chains. If you think a listing might be fraudulent, check the brand’s official site to see its legitimate locations.
  • Reviews that point out abuse. Sometimes, people will notice a fraudulent listing and note it in a review.
  • Profanity. Sometimes, people will deface legitimate listings with edits that include foul language.
  • Illegal businesses: If a business is illegal where it operates, it can’t be on Google Maps.

 

.::How do I report fraud on Google Maps?

 

  1. Find the business on Google Maps
  2. Scroll down and select Suggest an edit
  3. Tap Place is permanently closed or has never existed
  4. Select Spam, fake or offensive as the reason
  5. Tap Submit

How to identify_spam_flow.pngReport the listing as spam flow

 

 

.::Reporting a Local Guide

If you've found a Local Guide contributing content or behaving in a way that seems to violate our policies or Local Guides program rules, let us know here on Connect—but be sure not to share that person's information publicly. Create a post about the issue and tag a Google Moderator. The team will reach out to you via private message with instructions on how to proceed further.

168 comments
PeterH Level 3
Level 3

Fake reviews and hateful / threatening language from Google Guide User

I have found a Google Guide who's reviews are not only fake but his language is both threatening and hostile with unfounded accusations against companies. 

I'd like to report this to you guys to deal with. @TraciC

LucioV Level 9
Level 9

Re: Fake reviews and hateful / threatening language from Google Guide User

You will be contacted by Google Moderators for reporting this user, meanwhile you can try also to report the review(s) you find that are not following the reviews guidelines.

Google Administrator
Google Administrator

Re: Fake reviews and hateful / threatening language from Google Guide User

Hi @PeterH. If you find a review or photo that you think violates our policies, you can use the 'flag as inappropriate' icon next to the contribution. A team of specialists will then check if it violates any of our policies (https://goo.gl/dsVNTC, https://goo.gl/G87xzJ) and will take appropriate action. The review sometimes takes time as the team is careful to only remove content that violate policy.

If you've found a specific Local Guide with activity you think violates Google Maps' policies or the Local Guides program rules, let us know here in Connect (but don't share that person's information publicly) and we'll reach out to you via private message with instructions on how to share that information with the Local Guides team to share with the specialists for review. Please note that we'll never be able to share the specialists' decision as we respect everyone's privacy.

 

@LucioV We do try our best to see all posts (usually all we're tagged in are seen) but always best to tag a Google moderator

Local Guides Community Program Manager
Due to the volume of private messages Googlers receive, I do not read or respond to private messages. Please post publicly so others may benefit from your discussion. Thank you.
Google Administrator
Google Administrator

Re: Fake reviews and hateful / threatening language from Google Guide User

P.S. I've already responded to @PeterH on another thread. Peter, I recommend posting just once to help keep Connect organized. Someone will help you, promise! 

Local Guides Community Program Manager
Due to the volume of private messages Googlers receive, I do not read or respond to private messages. Please post publicly so others may benefit from your discussion. Thank you.
PeterH Level 3
Level 3

Re: Fake reviews and hateful / threatening language from Google Guide User

The reason why I posted multiple times is because I still havent had anyone priv message me about this but I have had autoresponses saying "if you want to report then get a mod to priv message you" even though I clearly said I didnt want to flag ONE review but I want to report a reviewer....

 

From my perspective it isn't in my interest to spend hours trying to report something while wading through endless forums and auto generated responses... 


Here's an excerpt from a review.... and there are over 70 more like this that the person has posted.... discrediting insurance companies, law firms, some a threatening and most abusive... Happy to just leave things and not even worry about it but I thought maybe this wasnt the kind of stuff google would want to be associated with?

 

<REDACTED>

 

PeterH Level 3
Level 3

Re: Fake reviews and hateful / threatening language from Google Guide User

Thank you! 

LucioV Level 9
Level 9

Re: Fake reviews and hateful / threatening language from Google Guide User

@PeterH here i think you will never find "automated responses"; anyone try to do it's best to be helpful ;)

I'm also struggling with spammers...

Zeds Level 5
Level 5

Re: Fake reviews and hateful / threatening language from Google Guide User

@PeterH,

That is disgusting but not totally surprising mate.I ran into some terrible racist chants on Google maps reviews not long ago about American Red Indians who live near a new casino site in southern California.There were a stack of really bad racist reviews.I have also seen racist reviews posted on Google maps back in my home town Brisbane,Australia about the local aborigines hanging out at certain pubs.I have flagged them whenever I spot them but I have no idea if they were removed.Such is life!

 

Cheers,

Zed star.

 

Tags (1)
PeterH Level 3
Level 3

Re: Fake reviews and hateful / threatening language from Google Guide User

Good to know I am not the only one struggling with it. Really keen to ensure there is a more easy system to get things like this taken down and to be able to report guides rather than just "Flag" reviews.... Or the Guide system as a whole will lose credibility due to a few bad apples. 

 

70 odd reviews like this, I'm actually at the point where I am worried this person may cause hostile actions towards these companies. I'd hate to see a physical repercussion from this individual in the wake of these reviews and feel like I knew about it, and did nothing to stop it.