Search engine services scam targeting businesses

Scam involves online advertising package which claims to increase the profile of a business

Businesses are been warned about a search engine services phone scam which could leave them out of pocket.

Accelerated search engine services include an online advertising package designed to increase the profile of a business. The scammers phone up and claim that they can get the business a high ranking on search engines such as Google. They also claim to offer a money back guarantee.

New South Wales Fair Trading commissioner Rod Stowe said it had received “hundreds of complaints” about the scam since 2012. For example, businesses reported that their search engine rank did not improve while others complained that they did not receive a refund despite asking for their money back.

“Complaints indicate that packages can cost from several hundred dollars up to more than $4000,” he said in a statement.

According to Stowe, persuasive telephone “sales pitches” were the problem.

“Don’t agree to any offers over the phone,” he said. “Business listings on some search engines are free and take very little time to set up.”

Stowe added that companies should do their own research on a trader and read the contract carefully before signing.

“Under Australian Consumer Law it is unlawful for a business to make false or misleading representations about goods or services when supplying, offering to supply or promoting those goods or services.”

Follow Hamish Barwick on Twitter: @HamishBarwick

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Tags search engine scamNSW Fair TradingGooglesearch engine

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