Tech giant Google took down over three million fake business profiles last year from Google Maps that could potentially defraud customers, according to a company blogpost. Google, which helps people connect with businesses by offering information like contact details and directions to the establishment, said business scammers occasionally take advantage of local listings to make a profit.
These scammers charge business owners for services that are actually free, defraud customers by posing as real businesses, and impersonate real businesses to secure leads and then sell them, Google Maps Product Director Ethan Russell said in a recent blogpost.
He added that the company has been using a wide array of techniques and approaches to limit abuse on its platforms.
“(Last year), we took down more than three million fake business profiles ?? and more than 90 per cent of those business profiles were removed before a user could even see the profile. Our internal systems were responsible for more than 85 per cent of these removals,” he said.
More than 250,000 of fake business profiles that it removed were reported to Google by users, and the company disabled more than 150,000 user accounts that were found to be abusive (up 50 per cent from 2017).
“It is a constant balancing act and we’re continually working on new and better ways to fight these scams using a variety of ever-evolving manual and automated systems,” Russell noted.
Google said over the years, it has added more than 200 million places to Google Maps and every month, it connects people to businesses more than nine billion times, including over one billion phone calls and three billion requests for directions.
The US-based company said users can flag individual business profiles for removal. People can also report multiple business profiles at once via the business redressal form to kick off the review process.
“We use such reports to investigate content and take it down if it is found to be in violation of our policies. We also investigate the associated accounts if they’re suspected of broader abuse,” it added.