Google Maps: Complex and Tricky for Some Users

September 12, 2019

Google Maps has become the one stop map tool due to its reliability, ease of use, accuracy, and wealth of information. The map app, however, is not as accurate as you think says Media Street in the article, “You Can’t Trust Google Maps To Find It All-Fake Businesses Are Everywhere.” The Wall Street Journal discovered that nearly eleven million businesses listed on Google Maps are fake. Other companies create the listings to boost their own business info ahead of the competition and others are scams.

In 2018, Google removed more than three million fake listings and more than 90% were removed before a user saw them. Users reported 250,000 fake profiles, while Google’s own system flagged 85% of the removals. Google encourages users to report anything suspicious or appears fraudulent.

Google does its best to track down the fake businesses:

“Google typically verifies if a business is legit by calling, mailing a postcard, or emailing a numerical code that is then entered on the website. It’s a pretty easy process for savvy scammers who likely use fake addresses and businesses for their listings anyway. Knowing this, the company says that they are constantly developing new ways to weed out fake listings, but can’t elaborate on what they are due to the sensitive nature.

Every month Maps is used by more than a billion people around the world, and every day we and our users work as a community to improve the map for each other,’ Google Maps’ product director, Ethan Russell, wrote in the blog post. ‘We know that a small minority will continue trying to scam others, so there will always be work to do and we’re committed to keep doing better.’”

There are ways to be wise to scams. You can avoid businesses that have names that included “dependable” or “emergency,” screen your phone calls, do not trust all the reviews, and also do your own research. See if the business has a Web site, check other review sites, view social media accounts, etc. Never forget to trust your gut instinct either.

Whitney Grace, September 12, 2019

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