Hackers change number on Minnesota plumbing company’s Google listing: “I feel helpless.” | #hacking | #cybersecurity | #infosec | #comptia | #pentest | #hacker

RICHFIELD, Minn. — Many people use search engines to find a company to do work on their homes, but how reliable is that information?

Southtown Plumbing, a family-run business for 60 years, said hackers changed the phone number on their Google listing in order to scam potential customers.

“Really I feel helpless,” Brent Veit, Southtown Plumbing’s vice president, lamented to WCCO Investigates. “My anxiety level for the last week — I have not felt anxiety my whole life, and it is there.”

According to Veit, Google is sending the company a special code via postcard to “unlock” and update the listing; local police told them there wasn’t much they could do either.

“I called a web guy, because this isn’t my realm,” Veit quipped. “If you need plumbing, that’s my realm.”

Southtown staff did call the new number, and Veit said a company claiming to be a bigger plumbing dispatcher answered. When the Southtown staff member created a fake service call, Veit said the person on the other side of the line offered to connect them with a contractor in the Twin Cities.

Then Veit asked for their Minnesota contractor’s number.

“That was one question they couldn’t answer,” he explained. “If someone can’t produce the contractor number for a business here in Minnesota, don’t use them.”

Vao Bang from the Better Business Bureau said the alleged hack is an important reminder for consumers to always verify everything.

“The BBB wants consumers to always stay savvy,” Bang told WCCO Investigates. “And that’s a smart move, because you just don’t know who is on the other end of a phone call, email, advertisement, or on on social media.”

Bang also offered advice to small businesses on how to mitigate the risks of being hacked in the future.

“Keep those lines of communication open with your customers,” she said. “Be transparent and share updated information in many different ways.”


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