Google Maps remains the most popular mapping service for individuals and businesses. Notably because of the many features it offers, it’s free and its development principle based on user contributions.
This last point is part of its major assets but is also a weak point that is exploited wrongly by crooks. They use several methods; however, Google does not intend to release them an inch.
Imagine! You have just found a store in Google maps, and you decide to go there to make a purchase or ask traders for information. Once on the scene, you finally discover that no shop is present. The stupor gives way to frustration and anger. This is exactly the kind of setbacks that Google wants to solve. Indeed, these unfortunate situations are due to fake Google Maps business cards that put some people online for the purpose of misuse or to swindle Internet users. This situation is the subject of a report by the Wall Street Journal, which Google quickly responded to through one of its blogs.
Google Maps and its many features
Launched in the United States in 2004, Google Maps is the most popular mapping service in the world. And for a good reason, it enjoys the influence of the American firm and remains accessible from the computer, tablet, and smartphone. Its many features and ease of use have guaranteed a worldwide success. You can, among others:
- You geolocate on the map to know your own position;
- Effectively search for places
- Get traffic information
- View places with Google Street View;
- Visualize satellite and 3D images;
- Get directions on foot, by bike, by car or by public transport, etc.
The list is not exhaustive since Google is constantly improving its tool to meet the needs of its users. In addition, the geographical criterion is an essential factor to significantly improve the visibility of your business on the web. You can even give your opinion on the establishments that are there and that you had the opportunity to attend.
Google Maps: Participatory Mapping
Have you ever wondered how does Google get to know all these details about the streets, the places, the establishments, etc.? The answer is simple, it is a participative tool, which implies that in addition to satellites and public cartographic sources, the firm allows its users to make their contributions. You can, therefore, enrich the map with the adding new information such as missing places and roads, or modifying existing information, for example by indicating the accessibility of a road or the badly written names of certain places. Moreover, the use of the service is free, and adding an address or registering a business on Google My Business is very simple and easy to do. Especially with a simple post office box or a phone number, an email. You can create and validate a page for your business. Such a simplified approach has contributed immensely to the impressive growth of Google Maps. However, this approach has also had a perverse effect with the proliferation, many cases of fraud or scam that the company faces.
Google Maps is full of millions of fake company profiles
If you’ve used Google Maps before, you’ve probably realized how handy it is. But unfortunately, the application would not be as reliable as it seems since it is full of numerous addresses or phone numbers of companies that simply erroneous. After being interested in the most popular mapping application, The Wall Street Journal has found that it includes an impressive number of fake business or store addresses. A number that exceeds 11 million addresses with many profiles added every month.
Google Maps: False profiles to do what?
The crooks who pretend to be real companies and use several methods to come to an end. For example, some institutions consciously create profiles for their competitors by embedding fake addresses or numbers. Once customers arrive on the scene, they are obviously disappointed and go to their shop. In addition, these crooks can change the description of stores to include their numbers, which allows them to pretend to be companies.
Google recognizes that there is a problem
To respond to the concerns of the American newspaper, Google has written an article on his blog through which he recognizes the problem and the various measures it takes to solve the evil. In fact, the firm indicates first that it currently has more than 200 million sites registered and that monthly, it connects users more than nine billion times to institutions including:
- Three billion requests for directions;
- One billion phone calls.
These impressive numbers are achieved through its operation as users and businesses can contribute. As a result, Google Maps collects millions of contributions daily, most of which are accurate and useful. Google also claims that scammers take advantage of it to earn income fraudulently. Indeed, they pretend to be genuine companies and take advantage of it to extort clients or businesses.
Google’s promise: A merciless struggle
The war against fake company profiles does not date from today, according to Google. As the leading search engine indicates in his blog, Google has set up a dedicated team to address these issues.
The real problem is that scammers use several methods to thwart the system set up by Google. And they create new ones when the company ends up detecting them with a game of “cat and mouse” which evolves constantly.
The American firm reassures that it is fighting against this phenomenon with several systems that are both manual and automated and are constantly improving. Not to mention also the tools that have been put in place to allow users to report these kinds of problems. The firm did not want to go into details at the risk of helping these crooks to quickly find new ways to thwart his systems.
The collaborative aspect of Google Maps is one of its major assets but is also a weak point that is exploited wrongly by crooks. The American firm intends to strengthen its systems at all levels to stop them.
One tip: be careful and do not forget to report suspected cases to Google Maps. This is a nice way to participate in the remediation of the application.