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Advertising Rogue Locksmiths—Is Google Responsible?

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When you need something fixed but don’t know how to go about it, what’s the first thing you do? Where do you go when you need to know about the cost of a particular product or service? If looking it up on Google comes to mind, you think like the majority of the population. Due to Google’s massive accessibility and reach, it has become the best friend of many when it comes to acquiring information from anywhere at any time. However, how sure are we that everything we find on the search giant is true and legitimate?

For many years, rogue locksmiths—also called cowboy locksmiths—have taken advantage of the search engine’s popularity to scam unsuspecting customers. Recently, cases of these incidents have started rising once again due to the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic. Burglars looking to make money pose as the most knowledgeable and affordable locksmiths offering their services at around £49, which is about half the usual price. These people take advantage of the client’s urgency and lure customers in by paying large amounts of money for advertising. This makes them the number one search result, moving above all the legitimate locksmiths. On the other hand, flustered homeowners whose only goal is to get back into their property instinctively choose the first option they see. Once the fake locksmiths are hired, their “clients” are slowly intimidated into paying amounts that may go over a thousand pounds, making up for the sums they paid for advertising. This method helps them earn a lot more than they usually would, but only if they are able to get away uncaught.

What does Google have to do with this?

The blame not only falls on the rogue locksmiths for doing such a thing but also on the platform that enables them to multiply and carry out their malicious deeds. The advertisements that appear on Google are based on who can pay the most during the auctions they hold. The bidding process determines which of the interested parties gets to advertise on the desired spot.

Before a business is allowed to participate in the bidding, its legitimacy is determined through background checks conducted by Google’s local partners. These checks involve both identity and criminal history checks, as well as other important factors that play a huge role in building trust between the business and its customer. However, these background checks are only currently available in Canada and the United States, which means that not all advertisements from various regions are thoroughly checked. Furthermore, the fact that false advertisements are able to make their way to the top proves these background checks somewhat ineffective.

Is Google doing anything about this issue?

Google has received countless criticisms on their algorithm, with various researchers claiming that they allow questionable companies to be placed on top in exchange for the large amounts of money they offer for advertisements. This makes many think that Google has a hand in helping cowboy locksmiths thrive.

These issues have forced Google to take action. This year, they announced that advertisements for locksmiths and garage door repairs in the USA and Canada will now be limited to businesses that have successfully gone through advanced verification processes. As for locations such as Germany, Sweden, Belgium, and the Netherlands, ads for locksmiths are completely restricted—probably until thorough background checks become available in those regions. In addition to this, Google continues to update its restrictions regarding business ads. They do this to ensure that businesses comply with their rules and regulations, and to avoid being held liable for possible scams as well.

How long locksmith advertisements will be concealed is still unknown to the general public. As for now, it is best to look for locksmiths through only the most trusted websites available on the web.

Finding the best locksmiths in the industry

trusted locksmithHiring trusted workers is essential to maintain a safe environment. It’s a good thing that various websites have made it easier to find locksmiths, without having to compromise security. It’s best to be familiar with these websites, in order to be prepared if ever the situation calls for it.

The Master Locksmith Association (MLA) has a search tool on their website which allows residents of the UK to easily find locksmiths close to them. All locksmiths who are part of the MLA can certainly be trusted, as they have gone through police checks and thorough verification processes.

On the other hand, WhatsTheDamage provides a directory of the most trusted locksmiths, cobblers, and jewellers across the UK. With the intent of putting your safety above everything, WhatsTheDamage ensures that each and every company listed on their meticulously-made directory has been verified down to the smallest detail. Not only does it contain locations and contact information, but also detailed reviews and ratings based on many of their clients’ testimonies, which make finding a locksmith a lot easier.

Familiarise yourself with the locksmiths in your area today. With WhatsTheDamage, you’ll never have to worry about picking the wrong locksmith.

Celina Morales
Author: Celina Morales

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