Avoiding Fake Google Map Listings

When we Google search a map listing we expect the business or service to be where it says it is. Much to everyone’s surprise, there are irregularities in the search engine that have been hijacked by the bad actors, as they say.

Here is a Google posted response from its blog detailing its effort to combat fake business listings.


“It’s a constant balancing act and we’re continually working on new and better ways to fight these scams using a variety of ever-evolving manual and automated systems,” it reads. “We have an entire team dedicated to addressing these issues and taking constant action to remove profiles that violate our policies.”
There are ways for you to spot a fake. No one method is foolproof, so instead you’re looking for a combination of these signals that something is off:

  1. Confirm the business name
    Be wary of business names with keywords like ““best” or “dependable” or “emergency.”
    Spammers know that listings have a better chance of showing up high in the search results if they use popular search terms. That’s not to say legitimate businesses don’t sometimes have superlatives in their names; just give keyword-heavy listings some extra scrutiny.
    Ben Fisher, another volunteer Google product expert, suggests doing a search on the Better Business Bureau’s website. Some businesses apply for BBB accreditation, but you might find other useful information there too, like customer reviews and confirmation of state licensing.
    If you really want to sleuth out the company, you can look for records about it on your secretary of state’s website. Look for a link for the state’s business directory or search, then type in the business name to see if it’s listed. Mr. Fisher warns however that some businesses aren’t required to register.
    The Google spokeswoman recommends checking to see if the listing has a website associated with it and if so, clicking through to make sure the link isn’t broken or giving you a malware warning.
  2. Google the address
    If you set the listing aside and just search for the address itself, does the same business appear? If you tap the Street View icon, can you clearly see signage or other evidence of the company at that location? Or is it a residential street with no business in sight?
    To make things more complicated, some of these spam listings appear on a map, but don’t have a visible address. A legitimate business might not list its address if it has a specific service area but doesn’t actually see customers at any office. But just because there’s a dot on the map doesn’t mean the business is located anywhere near there.
  3. Screen the phone number
    Calling the number on a suspicious listing can lead to several scenarios: You might get an actual business that’s just not located where Google says it is, or you might get one of the lead-generation call centers.
    Businesses that have nothing to hide won’t be cagey answering questions like whether or not they have a physical office and where it’s located. And if you are connected to a lead-generation firm who say they’ll connect you to someone who can help, it’s not necessarily a deal breaker.
    The important thing is to get the name of the actual business that’s being represented—and whether or not its pricing and level of service are what you’re expecting. Before committing, verify the existence of the company in other ways, such as through its own independent website or, better yet, a listing on Yelp or some other competing search tool.
  4. Be careful with reviews
    As helpful as customer reviews can be, they are often faked. Mr. Waddington suggests looking for clusters of reviews all posted around the same time. Another trick is to look out for repeated positive language and/or imprecise praise, accompanied by five-star ratings. (“Excellent service!” “Highly recommended!” “Definitely the best!”)
    The Google spokeswoman suggests sorting the reviews by different star ratings to see if something is amiss.
    If there’s a profile for the person who posted the review, click through to see what other businesses that person has reviewed and if anything looks suspicious. If Bob Smith has left short, vague reviews on service providers in multiple cities, odds are Bob is a spammer, not a jet-setter.

Travel and Technology

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE TRAVEL “HACK?”
Travel Hacks Image“Hack” is shorthand for a shortcut or a trick that can make your life easier. They can apply to any area of life, from cooking to cleaning to dining out. And, they are not only innovative approaches to tackling life’s challenges, but entertaining as well. We’ve taken a look around and come up with a list of hacks you can use when planning your next trip.

TECH TIPS

  • In a rental car, look at the little icon for the gas pump. The direction the gas handle is pointing is the side of the car where you put your gas in.
  • Put your smartphone on “airplane mode” to make it charge faster.
  • Forgot your phone charger attachment or have the wrong voltage? Power up by plugging your cord into the USB port found on the back of most hotel TVs.
  • Take a photo with your phone of where you park your car at the airport. That way, you can remember where your car is.
  • Take a photo of your rental car for scratches and dings BEFORE you leave the lot.
  • If on a road trip, take a photo of your car’s license so you have it when you register at your hotel.
  • Can’t hear the alarm clock? Set the alarm on your smartphone and put it in an empty glass near your bed. The sound will be amplified.
  • Take photos with your smartphone as you pack so you have a visual inventory of what you’ve packed, just in case your bags get lost.
  • Take an HDMI cord to connect your laptop, phone, or tablet to the hotel TV. You can then stream your favorite NETFLIX movie, Amazon Prime or other services you might have. We are addicted to MhZ Choice for International Mysteries.

MAKE DO WITH WHAT YOU HAVE

  • Use Google Maps even when you don’t have phone service. When you are online, find the point of interest (like your hotel) and load its profile. Tap the three dots in the top right corner, then click “Save offline map.” When offline, locate the place in the Google Maps app under “Your Places.”
  • Did you know you can use a shoe to open a wine bottle? Here’s how: Remove foil. Place bottom of bottle inside the shoe (works best with a brogue or something similar). Find a sturdy wall (brick or concrete) and repeatedly bang the shoe sole (containing the wine bottle) against it. Use force and expect to repeat banging motion about 20 times. The cork will eventually emerge.
  • Smartphone + empty toilet roll = instant boom box.

If you cannot do any of the above tips, please come to the lab. You can schedule either a one on one with your phone or take one of our classes.

See you soon.

 

Navigate and Search the Real World…online and off

It’s official. Straight from the Google Blog on November 10, 2015. You can now navigate and search the real world…online and off.

Roughly 60 percent of the world is without Internet today, and even where online access is available, it can still be spotty. That means that quick and easy access to information is still not possible for a majority of the population. This is a huge problem, especially as people attempt to navigate and explore the world around them, so Google Maps is taking steps to help people across the globe find directions and get where they’re going, even when they don’t have an Internet connection.

Now you can download an area of the world to your phone, and the next time you find there’s no connectivity—whether it’s a country road or an underground parking garage—Google Maps will continue to work seamlessly. Whereas before you could simply view an area of the map offline, now you can get turn-by-turn driving directions, search for specific destinations, and find useful information about places, like hours of operation, contact information or ratings.

product-offroad-setup-v1-r2

You can download an area by searching for a city, county or country, for instance, and tapping “Download” on the resulting place sheet, or by going to “Offline Areas” in the Google Maps menu and tapping on the “+” button.

Once downloaded, Google Maps will move into offline mode automatically when it recognizes you’re in a location with spotty service or no connectivity at all. When a connection is found, it will switch back online so you can easily access the full version of Maps, including live traffic conditions for your current route.

By default, we’ll only download areas to your device when you are on a Wi-Fi connection to prevent large data fees.

Offline Maps How it works

Google first previewed these new capabilities during Google I/O in May, and they’re gradually rolling out the first set of these improvements with the latest version of Google Maps on Android (coming soon to iOS). Over time, they’ll be introducing even more offline features to help you find your way—even when you can’t find a connection.

Posted by Amanda Bishop, Product Manager for Google.

Re-posted for all our seniors at AGE Computer Lab who spend time traveling the world with their phones.

Interesting Internet Searches

Recently we had a very informative seminar from a UT student Sandra Benyamin. There were some unusual sites she recommended. As we slow down our travels and have mobility issues we can still see the world.

My favorite is a site called Google Cultural Institute. It is composed of several different modules, like the Art Project, Users Galleries, and World History,

https://www.google.com/culturalinstitute/u/0/home

cultural

Here is a snapshot of the home page. when you click on the Art Project module, you have the ability to search by gallery, location or artist. As an example I searched for John William Turner. Within seconds they found all the Turners on display in a variety of countries.

You can filter by place,and collection.

place  collection. If you like art, this site will be one of your favorites. If you like more ideas about exciting internet sites, stay tuned for more tips. Or better still, come and visit us in the lab.

the harbour of Dieppe