Warning Fraudulent Attempts to take Control of Google My Business Profiles

I am sure that many people have received emails from Google search console, alerting them with regards to malicious codes being distributed through their website that are displaying warning messages that their site may harm users’ computers accessing your site via Google. We all know that internet hacking and fraud is nothing new. No matter how many preventative measures one uses, hackers will find a way to access Google My Business accounts.

Just when you think you have found a way to hack-proof your business profile, hackers are already a step ahead of you and have found another loophole to hack your account.  In addition, Black Hat SEO is also attempting to verify ownership of hacked sites in Google Search Console which will give them full access to site owner’s information sent from Google.  Once a hacker has hacked a legitimate account they will then un-verify the account making sure no notifications are sent out warning you that your site has been hacked.

Google reported that increasing numbers of blogs and small business sites are falling victim to hackers, of which site owners are not aware.  A recent Google transparency report has revealed that each week over ten million users encounter unsafe websites that deliver spam and malware and around 765,000 hacking incidents.  The sites observed by Google were found to be using the company’s search quality and safe browsing tools.

These figures are a worrying factor especially for those browsing and webmasters trying to prevent their sites from hacking, scams and malware. Business owners can now see if their business has been verified by following these steps:

  • Go to Google My Businesses
  • Sign in to your Google account that manages your business
  • Do a search using your business name and address
  • Click on your business and go into research results

Once you have access and see that the dialog box shows that another person has verified your business you then need to try one of the following options:

  • Sign in using a different email address – if you have more than one Google account you may have verified your business using a different email address.
  • If you still do not see any listings you need to contact the actual owner directly and ask them to transfer or add you as a listing manager
  • If you are unable to make contact with the current listed owner, you then need to contact the listed owner via Google My Business as only the current owner can add you or transfer ownership. The way to contact the owner is as follows:
    • Go to Google My Business
    • Sign in to your Google account that manages your business
    • Do a search using your business name and address
    • Enter your business name or address and choose your business from the drop-down menu
    • A dialog box will verify that the business is owned by someone else and you need to click on request ownership
    • if you want to update the listing info such as an incorrect phone number or address on Google, then click on ‘report a problem’
    • you will be required to complete a form and send a message to the current owner
    • you should include questions such as who you are, what you require them to do, your involvement with the business and why you should be managing the business listing and how they can contact you

The owner that is currently listed will receive an email asking them to contact you, and a confirmation email will be sent to you.  You should allow 7 days for the current owner to contact you.  If you don’t hear from the owner within 7 days, contact the Support Team by answering the confirmation email.

The big question is just how profound is website security and how can webmasters make their websites more secure for their visitors? How can websites be repaired and measures are taken to stop hacking, scams and malware from happening again?  Following these simple steps will significantly help to enhance the security of your website. However, there is no guarantee you won’t be hacked, but you will be one step ahead by following these steps. Be prepared, be pro-active and vigilant about your security, and your website should be safe.

  • Keep your platforms and scripts up to date
  • Limit sharing of login data and encrypt login pages
  • Make use of Google’s multiple tools available
  • Scan your website regularly using a reputable scanning service
  • Always work from a computer that is safe and avoid using public computers
  • Hackers thrive on hidden files – Ensure your website is cleaned regularly by deleting any files or content your site isn’t using
  • Close loopholes and improve your security but subscribing to a hosting company for security updates
  • Register with Google Analytics and Search Console to receive security notifications. For enhanced security, Google offers helpful tips for adding additional authentication and updating software

To make the web a safer place Google has now devised new methods to help webmasters protect their websites and businesses quickly and to hasten recovery. During critical moments such as breach of security, Google will provide a better experience for webmasters and their visitors by helping to re-secure their site and content.