Mother Concerned After a Google Listing Led a Stranger in Her Home - NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth
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Mother Concerned After a Google Listing Led a Stranger in Her Home

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Google Maps allows you to edit information, which could potentially help crooks pretend to be someone they're not. (Published Friday, Sept. 29, 2017)

    When Courtney Pearson's washing machine started leaking she knew just who to call.

    "I looked up Al's Guaranteed Appliance Repair on Google," Pearson said.

    After all, Al fixed it for free last time, helping her with a fairly simple issue. She felt she could trust him and called for help, but this time she didn't get an answer.

    "I got a text message almost immediately that said, 'Do you need appliance repair?'" Pearson said.

    She arranged the entire appointment by text.

    Two men then showed up, worked on her washer, and charged her $420.

    "I went to run a load, the water was at a slow trickle, there was leaking under the machine," Pearson said.

    She called back, and the men promised to return, but never did. Days kept going by and she says her calls weren't returned.

    Eventually, she found a photo online of the owner of Al's Guaranteed Appliance Repair online. He was standing next to a photo of his truck, which had a different phone number than the one she was texting.

    She called the number in the photo, and got Alonso De La Cerda.

    "I was like, whoa, I don't remember going to your house last week," De La Cerda said.

    After a few minutes Pearson realized the men who showed up to her house were not connected to Al's business.

    She went back to the number she texted, and it was still listed on Google.

    Al said it wasn't his number, it wasn't even close to it.

    They couldn't figure out how it happened until they saw a link on the listing.

    "Right where it lists the info for the business, it has a link that says suggest an edit," Pearson said.

    Someone was able to edit the phone number for Al's business to something else.

    NBC 5 Responds reached out to Google and confirmed this is possible.

    A company spokesperson said, "We recognize there may be occasional inaccuracies or bad edits suggested by users. When this happens, we do our best to address the issue as quickly as possible."

    Google added that business owners who sign up for their free business listing service should get alerts letting them know where their number is changed.

    If you don't sign up, like Al, you may not find out this is happening.

    By the way, the real "Al" fixed Pearson's washer for a little more than $200, and we tracked down the competing company who came out, and they gave her a refund. The phone number was changed back on the listing.


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