Unfortunately, this is a problem and we thought we would warn you about it.
There are scammers out there who pretend to be legitimate appliance repair people and somehow or another hijack a legitimate business’s phone number on Google search listings. They can do this because anyone can suggest an edit to a Google business listing. Scammers tell Google that the legitimate phone number has changed to a fake number they control. Google makes the change and there you go.
We were reminded of this situation because of a recent news article. This happened to a Michigan woman when she called to have her washing machine fixed. She had already established a relationship with a reputable business, Al’s Guaranteed Appliance Repair. So when the machine broke, she searched on Google for his phone number.
However, what she got was two unfamiliar men with shop vacs and buckets who spent an hour on the washer and charged $420 to replace a valve. As soon as they left, the washer began to leak. When she called the phone number she had, the scammers initially answered but then finally blocked her number.
It turned out the real “Al” had no idea his phone number had been hijacked, and had been wondering why he wasn’t getting any repair calls.
Just to show you this can hit close to home. It happened to us a few years ago. Some scammer high jacked our phone number temporarily on Google and a woman with a broken fridge got taken for $1225. The police caught the guy but it was unnerving to have this happen. We now watch our Google listing closely.
The lesson here is that it is essential that you double check to make sure you have the correct number for a reliable service provider. Ask for credentials when they show up. Business owners have to remain aware, too. Google states that merchants are notified by email if an edit is suggested. Watch for these notices.