When your business and sales are dependent on PPC advertising, it can be very frustrating to see your Google Ads suspended. This will have an imminent impact on your sales and business. A common reason to have your account suspended is because of “Suspicious Payment Activity”. As this warning message is very vague, many people don’t understand what exactly had lead to the suspension and how they can fix it. It’s possible to appeal the account suspension, but many appeals get rejected without further explanation. Google’s support may not be helpful either, and they are often unwilling to share details about your account suspension.
So what happened? How do you get your account back up and running ASAP?
In this article, I’m sharing my observations on accounts suspended for suspicious payments and my experience with unblocking them. Feel free to share your comments and experience in the section below.
“We’ve detected suspicious payments in your account”…
If one day you open your Google Ads account and see the notice “Your account is suspended”, it’s bad news: Google has suspended your account with no intention to bring it back. This means that, practically, your account is useless and that you can’t run ads on it anymore.
The warning message usually reads: “Your account is suspended – we’ve detected suspicious payments in your account”. In another section, you can see: “Your account is suspended because your billing information can’t be verified”. But no further explanation or suspension reasons are given.
If you haven’t done anything wrong, you would probably think that it’s enough to give them a call and fix the problem, but the truth is that unblocking a suspended account is NOT THAT EASY! If you think that you can just give Google a call and that they’ll instantly review the account and get it back on track … you are wrong. There is most probably a reason for your suspension and according to the system you are now flagged as an untrustworthy advertiser.
What does Google mean by “suspicious payments in your account”?
If your Google Ads account is temporarily suspended for payment related issues, your campaigns will not be served during the suspension period. You can resume advertising only after the suspension is lifted.
The first important thing to point out is that this warning message refers to a specific reason: suspicious payment activity. While vague, this already gives you a silver lining to follow while you’re investigating and trying to fix the problem.
If your account was suspended for selling unauthorized products, counterfeiters, or for advertising illegal businesses, you would have seen, most likely, another suspension message (warning). So the best you can do, in this case, is to look at your payment methods, payment information, and to try to solve the problem as quickly as possible. Overturning an account suspension may become a long and tedious process, so get to it ASAP.
Keep in mind that other Google advertising accounts that share the same payment information may get banned as well. Look at your other Google Ads accounts, Google Ads Manager, Merchant Account, or Google Adsense to make sure they’re not affected by the same problem.
Why your Google Ads account is suspended for suspicious payments: the most common reasons
Below, I listed the most common reasons for getting a Google Ads account suspended for suspicious payments. Your case will most likely fall into one (or several) of these categories. You’ll need to review and eliminate them one by one.
You are using a credit card that is already linked to another suspended Google Ads account
It’s very likely that you got suspended because your account is sharing the same payment information with another suspended account. Two important things to point out here:
- the other account(s) could have been suspended a while ago,
- the other account(s) could have been suspended for any other reason and not necessary for payment problems.
Let’s say that you are sharing the same bank card with another advertiser, who is selling counterfeit goods. Your account could be suspended as soon as Google realizes that your account is closely related to an unethical advertiser.
Usually, situations like this occur when web agencies or PPC consultants who work with multiple clients are using their own payment details on all of their clients’ accounts. If even one of their clients gets banned, all other client accounts will be affected as well.
Google states that each advertiser should use their own credit card and payment details in their account. But there are still many agencies who prefer to cover the advertising costs of their clients and pay Google directly. The clients will later reimburse them for the Google Ads costs together with campaign management fees and other commissions the agency may charge.
You should absolutely avoid this payment model and insist on paying yourself for all Google advertising costs (by using your own credit card information). This way, you’ll have full control over your payment information and will minimize the risk of getting your account blocked for payment related issues.
You are using a credit card that is already linked to another (active) Google Ads account
It may sound strange, but it’s possible that Google hasn’t yet banned the account in violation but has first banned your account. Undoubtedly, suspending the violating account will follow, but sometimes it may take several days for the system to flag and suspend all connected accounts.
Again, this is an unlikely scenario, but I think it’s worth mentioning.
The cardholder name doesn’t match the name on your Google Ads account
The billing name in your Google Ads account should match the Card Holder Name on the card you are using for payments. A mismatch between your Google billing information and your bank’s information could be a reason for suspension.
The credit card address doesn’t match the address in your Google Ads account
Pay attention to your account address as well. If you’re using a company credit card you have to input the official company’s address and zip code in the account.
If on the other hand, you’re using a personal credit card, you need to input your personal information in your account.
You are using a payment card that is not issued by a bank (ex. virtual card)
Here, I’m referring to different types of cards generated from online payment websites. Even though Google’s policy specifically states that they accept virtual credit cards, I have stumbled upon multiple testimonials in forums and blogs, from people claiming that their accounts got blocked because of virtual payment cards.
“In addition to regular credit cards, you can also use a one-time use credit card (also known as a virtual credit card). It’s commonly used as an alternative to physical credit cards when making online payments.”Google Ads Payment Methods
Amazon Payment Cards and Apple Cards can also be a reason to suspend your account, as explained in this testimonial. Even if these payment cards are not virtual, but actual physicals card people can put in their wallets and carry, their account numbers are generated through online payment services (iOS wallet app in this case).
And according to this testimonial, even prepaid cards bought from a bank can get you suspended, especially when you are using them as your primary payment method.
As you can see, the testimonials I am referring are several months old, so it’s possible that things have changed since and that now Google is accepting Apple and Amazon cards. In any case, my advice is to always use a bank credit or debit card and to sustain from adopting new payment methods too early if you don’t want to get their Google Ads accounts flagged.
Your card has been blocked by your bank
It’s possible that Google hasn’t received your last payment because your card was blocked by your bank. If you’re using a credit card outside your base location or country, your bank may block the transaction because of suspicious activity on your card. Go to billing – payments and make sure that all of your previous invoices have been paid.
If you see old invoices marked as “unpaid” or “overdue”, you should contact your bank directly.
You owe Google money for other services
Your account may be suspended because of unpaid balances on old accounts or on other Google-owned services. Think and review any old Google accounts you may have: Google Ads, Google Merchant Accounts, YouTube, AdSense, etc. You may be surprised and find an outstanding balance of some of these.
Your billing information can’t be verified for some reason
If Google can’t know if your billing information checks out, they may ban your account.
Your account has been suspended due to other policy violations (unlikely)
In my opinion, it’s unlikely that you’re in another type of advertising policy violation and you see the notice of suspicious payment suspension. In any case, it will be useful to make sure that you can legally advertise your business and products and double-check Google’s list of Prohibited content.
Google reserves the right to suspend any account deemed to be violating their Ads Policies.
You haven’t paid your Google Ads bill (very unlikely)
If you fail to pay your advertising costs on time, your account will be suspended until you pay the outstanding balance. But in this situation, you’ll see a different warning message that reads: “Your service has been suspended due to unpaid invoices.”.
If this is the case, it’s easy to solve: you need to pay the balance, contact Google support at firstname.lastname@example.org, and send them proof of payment. Alternately, you can also wait a few days after you’ve made the payment and the account will be automatically restored once they’ve received it.
How to unblock your Google Ads account (Step-by-step)?
As I said above, unblocking an account can be a long and tedious process, so my advice is to start the appealing process as soon as possible. Below, I’ve listed step-by-step the procedure that I’ve used to unblock a client’s account that was suspended for suspicious payment activity.
Step 1: Identify the problem
When my client first saw the suspension notice, they thought it was a mistake because they’ve done nothing wrong. Most advertisers who are up to date with their payments would think the same. But you should that Google rarely makes mistakes and there is probably a good reason (at least in their eyes) for suspending your account. Start by reviewing the 10 most popular reasons for account suspension I’ve listed above and consider taking action accordingly.
Step 2: Update your payment information
One of your first actions should be to review the billing information on your account (name, address, etc.) and correct or fill in the missing information. The more information you provide, the better.
In my client’s case, we discovered that the issue was related to a mismatch in the billing information and the problem was fixed after contacting their bank and Google.
Step 3: Contact your bank
Make a phone call to your bank, explain the situation, and ask if they’re aware of a problem with your credit card. You need to verify the Card Holder Name and the address that they have on record. All bank information should match your account information in Google Ads.
Of course, you also need to check if there hasn’t been a problem with your bank card.
Step 4: Add an alternative payment method
This is a proactive measure, but it’s worth trying even after your account gets suspended. I advise my clients to always add an alternative payment method as a backup payment option.
If you’re on automatic payments and your primary payment method doesn’t work for some reason, a backup credit card makes sure your ads keep running. read how to add backup credit cards here.
Also, don’t forget that Google offers advertisers multiple payment options and you don’t always have to pay by credit card. You could, for example, consider
- Manual Payments: you credit your account before your campaigns start running. When your ads start running, the costs are deducted from your balance.
- Bank account payments (direct debit): Google deducts your payments for Google Ads directly from your bank account.
It’s possible that Google’s system is facing difficulty verifying/accepting your primary Credit card, payment method.
Step 5: File an appeal
However, if you think that your case is none of the above and you weren’t able to identify the problem, the only solution you have is to file an official appeal form here. Google has the same appeal form for all types of account suspension appeals. So no matter the reason for your suspension you’ll need to use the form I’ve shared here.
If you’re appealing for an account suspended for suspicious payments, here are several sections of this form that deserve special attention:
You need to fill in all the billing details with extensive information.
List all your Google Accounts
Use this section to list all Google services and accounts sharing the same bank information as the suspended account:
Explain who pays for your advertising costs and why
As I mentioned above, it’s possible that your account got suspended because it’s sharing payment information with another account that is violating Google’s policies. This often occurs when your account is managed by a web agency that is using their own payment details on all of their clients’ accounts. In this case, if one of their client accounts gets banned, all the other accounts will be banned (including yours).
In this section of the appeal form, you must clearly explain your situation and list all other Google Ads accounts you are related to and how. Who is paying for the advertising costs: you or an agency/consultant? If you are unaware of any other accounts related to you (and your payment details) you can also point that out. Also, try to explain what card you are using and why you feel this is the correct payment method. The more information you submit here, the better the chance to get the account cleared and reinstated.
But keep in mind that Google states that each advertiser should use their own credit card and payment details in their account. If you’re not using your own credit card information to pay for your business ads, you are in violation.
It is best to look at this as your final opportunity to restore your Google Ads account, so take your time and provide extensive and correct information.
Step 6: Wait for their reply
Usually, it takes Google 3-5 days to complete the review process and get back to you with a verdict. In some situations though, you may get your appeal rejected much sooner. If you’re unlucky and your appeal gets rejected, you won’t be given any exact information for the rejection reason. Usually, the rejection e-mail looks like this:
Thanks for your continued patience during this process. We’ve confirmed that your account is in violation of our Google Ads policies. Since this decision is final, the account will not be reinstated. Please avoid creating additional Google Ads accounts, as they will be subjected to the same suspension. Our support team will not be able to give you any more specifics on the suspension. We appreciate your understanding and cooperation.
It’s not uncommon for businesses to submit an appeal form several times and the only answer they receive is “we reviewed your appeal and aren’t changing our decision”. Very frustrating, indeed.
Step 7: Contact Google’s support
If your appeal is rejected, the last resort you have is to contact directly Google’s support. Only they are able to access your account’s payment history and to check if there’s a problem with the payment method.
However, Google’s support is not allowed to tell you why the account got suspended. Indeed, in some situations, they specifically don’t want to tell advertisers what’s wrong and what policies they are violating. The reasoning behind this is that the less information they give, the more difficult it is for unethical advertisers to bypass policies and trick the system. You may hear that “the system works as intended” or that they are “not reconsidering their decision“. Unsurprisingly many advertisers are frustrated with this situation where they are left in the dark and not being told what’s wrong and why they are in violation of Google’s Advertising Policies.
If even after following all the steps from this guide, you still can’t unblock your Google Ads account, there is a good chance you’ll never be able to use it again. In this case, my only advice is to start from scratch with a brand-new account.
Unfortunately, in many cases, this is not a solution and the new account also gets suspended in days. However, according to testimonials I read online, some people are able to “trick the system” and get their new accounts running again. This is not a perfect solution (because in any case, you’ll lose all your account history), but at least you’ll be able to advertise again.
In any case, you should be proactive and absolutely avoid finding yourself in this situation. Here’s how to avoid getting suspended for suspicious payment activity:
- Always link your own debit cards and don’t allow your digital agency or Google Ads expert to use their bank details.
- Do not use the same card for different accounts, except if they are not strictly related to the same business or company. It’s common practice for scammers (or spammy companies) to connect and use the same credit card to multiple Google Ads accounts.
- Do not violate Google’s advertising policies. Fullstop.
In case you also have troubles with a suspended Google Ads account, please use the comments section below to share your experience. This article receives a good amount of organic traffic and I often receive emails from people in a similar situation. Unfortunately, I cannot help directly, but I will be happy to discuss and share my experience in the comments below.