They typically do this to leech away customers, as in the case of a hosting company I worked for several years ago that had to deal with an exact copy of our site – but on a the .de domain. A lot of people contacted us assuming it was a legitimate German branch of the company. Sometimes though, the impersonation motivation isn’t that clear.
We’ve talked about embracing Google+ as a communication channel (some cool news to come on that front in a few days!), and we’re big fans of the way they’re doing things over there. But last night we found a user with the name DiscountASP.NET TOS.
None of us had created it, and since it was still empty, it was impossible to know what was planned for it. But what the plan isn’t really important. You have to be proactive in protecting the name of your business.
I was surprised to receive an email from Google less than 12 hours after we filed a report, informing us that the DiscountASP.NET TOS user had been removed.
12 hours? It took us three years to get a DiscountASP.NET knock-off Twitter account removed. So my hat is off to the Google+ staff. Their responsiveness only increases my confidence in the potential for Google+.
Is someone impersonating you or your business on Google+? Reporting the impersonation is easy:
First, make sure you are logged in to your Google+ page.
Click the “Report this profile” link:
When prompted for a reason for the report, select “Impersonation”:
After you hit “Submit,” you will start a questionnaire. You’re going to come to a question that asks whether you can add code to your web site:
If you have set up a Google+ page for your business and have used their code to add the plus “badge” to your site, this step is already complete, and you can choose, “Yes, I can add a snippet of code to our corporate website.”
If you aren’t using the badge there is another snippet of code you can add that links your web site and your Google+ profile. The link between the two is important. Without it, you will not be able to report impersonation.
If you cannot add code to your site, the removal process is going to take more time. When you select the, “No, I’ll submit verification instead” option, Google requires you to complete and submit their “proof of ownership” form.
Finally, simply complete a few fields to provide company information and submit.
The entire process only takes a few minutes if your site is already linked to Plus, and not much longer than that if you have to add the code snippet.
I can’t promise you a 12 hour turnaround, but if all the “i”s are dotted and the “t”s are crossed, you should see the impersonation site disappear pretty quickly.