By Chris Anderson
The increasing use of web-based reviews by consumers is resulting in a disturbing trend, one where business competitors attempt to game the system through competitor internet defamation. In these situations, competitors will pose as “customers” and post negative reviews and complaints for thousands of potential customers to read. Consumers have no way to tell the difference between fake and genuine complaints, making this strategy disturbingly effective – leading some businesses to lose anywhere from 30-90% of their revenues.
Based on the requests that we see come into our business, some companies have determined that their best strategy for growth is to destroy their competition. They seem to forget the minor little detail that attorneys view this as highly illegal.
Unfortunately, many victim businesses believe there is little that can be done and thus suffer in silence as their business is slowly killed.
Internet defamation made all-too-easy
Popular review sites (i.e.: Yelp, Google Places, RateMD, etc.) are the most common outlets used by these competitor internet defamation attackers. The attacker creates a fictitious account – often many accounts to cause as much damage as possible – and posts negative reviews. Complaint sites are also popular avenues for defamation. These attackers go to sites like ripoffreport.com, pissedconsumer.com, complaintsboard.com and consumeraffairs.com, where they log false complaints are against their competitors.
What makes these sites particularly harmful is that they rank highly under a brand search. For example, suppose that you are considering doing businesses with XYZ Corporation. One of the most common steps today is for the potential customer to search the brand name in Google. If a competitor has decided to attack you on one of the popular review websites, it will show up ranking very highly for that search. Since the potential customer does not know the review is fake, they move on to “a better company”.
Many businesses suffer for years under the mistaken assumption that nothing can be done. However, with the right resources it is possible to fight back effectively. There are proven methods for combating this type of defamation and putting an end to it once and for all.
Fighting competitor internet defamation
Successful internet defamation competitor cases usually involve 3 key components:
- Determining who the anonymous poster is
- Getting damaging content removed
- Determining the extent of damages and potentially initiating a lawsuit for relief
There is a reason why the average businessperson finds it difficult to push back. It takes the combined efforts of investigators, forensic specialists and experienced Internet defamation attorneys to address all facets of the situation. Many companies try to self-investigate or self-lawyer and come to all the wrong conclusions. Technically proficient investigators are needed to uncover who is posting the false information and repair the damage, while experienced legal professionals are necessary to take legal action against the responsible party. Sometimes, when the damage is very substantial, crisis management specialists are also needed. If the perpetrator is successfully uncovered, then the attorneys may be able to seek substantial damages – either from defamation or via false advertising claims via the Lanham Act.
The time to act is now
If you believe you are suffering from competitor internet defamation attacks, the time to take action is now. This type of situation can get out of hand quickly, causing lasting damage to your business that is very difficult to repair.