How to report “impersonators” on Google+

Michael PhillipsGoogle+ changes quickly, so naturally this information is no longer valid. To report impersonation on G+ now, just use this link.

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When you run a successful business online, you are inevitably going to run in to the issue of people with, let’s say, less than altruistic motives, trying to impersonate you.

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.

6 thoughts on “How to report “impersonators” on Google+

  1. Hello… someone bought my old business name, and is using a description of MY Business on that website. Can you please tell me what to do nd how to get that information removed? They basically stole MY CONTENT and old business name.

    It’s copyrighted. It’s a fictious name registered to MY business. What do I do?

    Thank you for any help you can provide me…

  2. I’m not sure what you mean by “bought your old business name”. But in general, if there is a copyright issue, then you can contact the hosting provider that is hosting the content and file a complaint. You will have to provide specific information to file an offiicial complaint so a simple email will not suffice. The host should be able to guide you.

    1. We changed our business name from Brookdale Family Campground to Meadville KOA Campground. I changed my Domain name from to Meadville The person who bought is using my content from and on their domain name.

      No one could tell me who was hosting How do I find that out?

      1. To find out where a domain is hosted you can run a whois lookup report and see where the DNS points to. All domain registrar sites and sites like have whois lookups. You can also run a traceroute.

        1. What do I do then? I’ve contacted the host, and asked them to remove the content. I’ve contacted the owner of the domain name and offered to buy the domain name back. What if they don’t remove the content, and he won’t sell me ack the domain name? Do I have any legal rights for content and copyright infringement and impersonating my business?

          1. I”m not a lawyer so I’m not sure of the all the legal rights. You should consult a lawyer if you want to know all the legal rights. You can try to file a DMCA complaint. The Site owner will be able to file a counter-claim. If they do, you have to settle this matter through legal channels. If another person owns the domain, then they have the right to sell or not sell the domain. You cannot compel someone to sell a domain if they don’t want to. If you have legal rights over the domain, then you should be able to file a legal case to get the domain back. There are cases where businesses have won against domain speculators. But you also have to decide if its worth your time and money to go through all this.

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