Avoid and report Google scams

By focusing on providing the best user experience possible, Google has earned a trusted brand name. Unfortunately, unscrupulous people sometimes try to use the Google brand to scam and defraud others. Here are a few common scams, and ways that you can avoid and report them.


Google Lotto scam

You receive an email claiming that you've won a Google Lottery and are asked for personal details. You may also be asked to pay a fee to release the funds (such as a money release fee, currency exchange, etc.).

Google doesn't run lotteries, and your email address hasn't been selected to win a prize. Do not reply back with your personal details.

Resources:

  • Report the email as spam or phishing to your email provider. If you have Gmail, learn how to report spam and report phishing.
  • If the email was sent from a Gmail address, you can report abuse to help Google take appropriate action on accounts involved in this scam.
  • Spam: The abuse of electronic messaging systems to indiscriminately send unsolicited bulk messages.
  • Phishing: Phishing is a type of online fraud where someone tries to trick the victim into revealing sensitive details such as a username, password or credit card details, by masquerading as a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication.

Google Wallet vehicle purchase scam

You find a cheap car online, and the seller claims that for your protection the purchase will be completed via Google Wallet. The car price is "too good to be true" and the seller claims a need to sell the car quickly because he or she is moving, moving out of the country, being called for military service, getting a divorce, etc. The reality is that there is no car, and you won’t be using Google Wallet. Instead, the seller will send you an invoice that appears to be from Google Wallet, but will instruct you to make the payment via Western Union, MoneyGram or bank transfer.

A legitimate Google Wallet transaction will require that you sign in to your Google Account and execute the payment using the Google Wallet interface. Google Wallet does not accept wire transfers/bank transfers or payments via Western Union/MoneyGram, nor does it use any escrow type of payment.

Google Wallet used to be called Google Checkout, and some scammers still use the Checkout logo and trademarks in their emails and other communications.

Resources:

  • Read more about the Google vehicle purchase scam.
  • If you think you've encountered a scam involving a fraudulent Google Wallet transaction, complete this form to provide information to Google. The information you provide us with may be used to further investigate this matter in aggregate, and may be shared with the appropriate authorities as part of our effort to shut down these types of operations.
  • If you received the email from a Gmail address, you can report abuse to help Google take appropriate action on accounts involved in this scam.

Google Account Recovery Scam via SMS Messages

If you receive a text message claiming your Google Account has been compromised, use a computer to go to Google Account Security settings and review your recent activity to make sure no one unauthorized has accessed your account. Do not respond to unsolicited text messages with personal information. Also, beware of messages that claim Google needs to call you to verify your identity. Google will not send you a text message that asks you to respond by text or phone call to verify your identity if your account has been compromised. Here's an example of what a scam message might say:

  • Google Message #42132: Your Gmail has been compromised by hackers. Google needs to call you to verify your identity. Text back with 'READY' when you are ready to recieve this call.

If you receive a message similar to the one above, do not respond. Instead, forward the message to your cell phone carrier’s SMS spam reporting number. For most carriers, this number is 7726.

Also, Google Voice allows you to mark messages as spam so that future messages from that number will automatically be considered spam and you won't receive any notifications about it.

Resources:

Google top placement/SEO scam

Google never guarantees top placement in search results or AdWords. Beware of any company making these types of promises.

Resources:

Google Maps/SEO fake invoices

Google does not charge for inclusion in Google Maps. Be wary of invoices for services received -- especially if nobody in the business remembers purchasing those services. Make sure to perform due diligence on any financial transaction.

Resources:

Learn how to add or claim your business on Google Maps at google.com/places.

Google telemarketing calls

Watch out for parties calling and selling services claiming to have a special relationship with or claiming to be Google. Often, these parties are telemarketers that are not affiliated with Google and are trying to leverage the Google brand to sell your business some type of online service. Keep in the mind the following:

  • Google does not place robocalls.
  • Google does not call to "update your front page listing" or ask you to "claim your free website."
  • Google does not charge for inclusion in Google Search or Places.

Resources:

If you are continually being contacted by a telemarketer claiming these things and are on the do not call list, you can file a complaint at the National Do Not Call Registry.

Google/Zagat job scam

This type of scam operates by telling people they have been given a job with Google/Zagat. However, they have to pay a training fee (or some other type of fee) before they can start. In reality, they have not been given a job with Google, but rather they've been tricked into sending money to a scam artist.

Resources:

Gmail update phishing

Many phishers actively target Gmail users and attempt to steal their credentials. Phishers will often say that you need to update your Gmail account information or your account will be suspended. The link provided in the email will appear to be https://accounts.google.com, but in reality the link will take the user to a site controlled by the phisher. Beware of these types of emails, and always double check that the URL in the address is what you expect before entering personal information or passwords.

Resources:

  • Learn some steps to help you determine whether a message is phishing.
  • If you have Gmail, consider turning on two-step verification to add an extra layer of security to your Google Account.
  • If you received the phishing email from a Gmail address, you can report abuse to help Google take appropriate action on accounts involved in this scam.
  • Spam: The abuse of electronic messaging systems to indiscriminately send unsolicited bulk messages.
  • Phishing: Phishing is a type of online fraud where someone tries to trick the victim into revealing sensitive details such as a username, password or credit card details, by masquerading as a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication.

I’ve been scammed. What should I do?

You may wish to file a report with the appropriate authorities and/or your regional fraud reporting center — such as the Internet Crime Complaint Center (www.ic3.gov)

You may also contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which handles complaints about deceptive or unfair business practices. To file a complaint, visit http://www.ftc.gov/ftc/contact.shtm, call 1-877-FTC-HELP, or write to the following address:
Federal Trade Commission
CRC-240
Washington, D.C. 20580

If your complaint is against a company in a country other than the United States, you can file it at http://www.econsumer.gov. You can also find information on where to report in locations outside the United States at econsumer.gov.

I’ve noticed the Google trademark used incorrectly. How can I report it?

You can report incorrect use of the Google Trademark.

General tips for staying safe online

Get tips and advice for staying more secure on the web and an overview of some of the security tools that Google offers.