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What you should know if you get a call saying your online-domain listing is out of date

Don’t fall for a scam that says your online domain listing is out of date.
Don’t fall for a scam that says your online domain listing is out of date. Bay Area News Group

If you run a business or have a personal website, you probably own a website domain or several. The Better Business Bureau is sounding the alarm on a con that fools domain owners into paying or sharing personal information in order to “register” with Google.

Here’s how this scam works: You own a domain name for your personal or business website. One day, you get a robocall claiming to represent Google’s business listing or a similar service. The recording claims your domain listing is out of date and you need to update it to keep your spot in Google’s search rankings.

Reality is, the caller has no affiliation with Google. If you agree to “update your listing,” the caller may ask for information about your business — including your Google password. Sharing this puts you at risk for future scams or even identity theft. In other cases, scammers try to charge for their phony services.

Many businesses take a “buy it and forget it” approach to their website domain names, and scammers prey on that lack of knowledge. BBB offers a few tips for better managing this part of your business:

▪  Be familiar with Google’s services. Google does not charge for inclusion in Google My Business or in Google Search. Google doesn’t currently cold call businesses with an offer to improve your search ranking or manage your business’s online profile.

▪  Don’t provide your password or verification code to any caller. You should never provide sensitive information about your account (like your password and verification code) to an unsolicited caller.

▪  Know your top-level domains. Scammers use scare tactics to sell unpopular top level domains at inflated prices. If you company doesn’t do business in other countries, you probably don’t need to buy a domain there.

▪  Select a single business to register all your domain names. Another domain name scam involves fake invoices for domains you never purchased. Avoid falling for this trick by selecting a single provider to register your domains and maintain one account.

▪  Carefully read all invoices and solicitations sent to your company. This scam is a twist on the common “directory pages” scam. If you have any doubts on an invoice, verify with the person who gave authorization and do a little research. A quick search may clear up any concerns, or give you the opportunity to verify the company.

Emily Valla, emily.valla@thebbb.org, is the Idaho marketplace director for the Better Business Bureau Northwest. To check a business or report a scam, go to www.bbb.org or call (208) 342-4649.

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