Google is fighting back against fraud with an advanced verification process for plumbers and locksmiths.
An email sent out to Google’s top contributors states the company’s plan for an advanced verification process is being beta tested in San Diego. All locksmiths and plumbers currently verified will have to go through the new verification process. Failure to do so before November 1 will result in the loss of verification and the removal from Google Maps.
Of course, any new applications will have to go through the new process as well, which said to be simple. It includes a combination of questions from Google and completing an application with a third party verification company. The new application process is said to take about two weeks to complete.
The entire advanced verification process for plumbers and locksmiths in the San Diego area is explained in this Google My Business help article. The process will also be used for plumbers and locksmiths using AdWords.
Why Locksmiths? Here’s Why.
Did you know that one of the biggest online scams is perpetrated by so-called locksmiths? Google knows, and the issues are finally being taken seriously.
It only takes a few bad actors to ruin it for the rest. In this case, the bad actors are individuals or companies claiming to be locksmiths to make some quick cash. Here’s how the scam works.
- After being locked out of one’s home and not knowing what to do, a quick Google search brings up a list of local locksmiths.
- Google returns AdWords ads and Google My Business listings for locksmiths promising cheap or inexpensive service rates.
- Calling one of these bargain locksmiths actually routes you to an offshore call center, where they dispatch someone local to come to your door.
- The locksmith shows up and, before trying any other options, immediately drills the lock open and slaps you with a large bill for the service.
- The cheap service you thought you were getting then turns into a large expense.
- Congratulations, you can now get back into your home but you’ve become a victim of locksmith fraud.
This locksmith scam has been well documented over the past few years and even written about in the New York Times. To get an idea of how rampant it is becoming, search for “locksmith scam” in Google.
Google’s advanced verification should cut down on the amount of fraudulent locksmiths found in ads and search results. As for why plumbers have to go through an advanced verification, I’m not quite sure. I tried to research online plumbing scams but was unable to find anything.
Google is notoriously secretive about why it makes the decisions it does. Regardless, I have reached out for comment in an attempt to gain further information.
Subscribe to SEJ
Get our weekly newsletter from SEJ's Founder Loren Baker about the latest news in the industry!