How do you fighting back against internet "Protection Scams"?


3

First this happened to a client -- and now it has happened in a slightly different configuration to me. We have become victims of a classic protection scam.

You know -- the hire us to keep bad things from happen. But in this case the nuance is the bad things happened -- and it is pays us to stop the pain.

The slums of the internet are populated with so called "Consumer Protection" sites where some unverified anonymous person can come on and bash your company and your reputation. When you contact the company they flood you with a defiant list of legal precedent that shows they can keep it up.

Someone of the worse then blatantly say that they will take down posts that are proven false. When you ask them where you should send the proof they say -- oh it will cost $15,000 to launch the investigation. WTF?

Of course you can contact one of the companies on the website that claim they can protect your reputation. They either send legal letters to the company or they try to flood the internet with positive posts to bury the offending post. There are problems with both of these models.

  1. The first is that the only lawyers that the BSCS responds to are those that they want to (I smell a behind-the-scenes relationship-- are they the same company?)
  2. And in the second model -- yes, you can enter into a permanent relationship to flood the internet with things to push offending post out of the top ranked searches -- but it distracts from your real content and you are competing against a company whose livelihood is high ranking -- so it is very expensive.

Meanwhile I have a client that loses customers because of a re-printing of a irresponsible "news" paper article that slander them -- without posting the follow-up information

And I can't afford the price of either paying the tribute or for someones to bash their kneecaps. Meanwhile my kneecaps really hurt.

How do we shut these scum-buckets down? And what do you do to respond?

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asked Apr 6 '11 at 04:09
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Joseph Barisonzi
12,141 points

2 Answers


3

Are they located in the US? If so I'd try a small claims case, just to test the waters for free. Claim $5k in damages, the max for small claims. If you win, the door opens to new lawsuits by others and by yourself. If you lose...you're back to square one and forced to choose between eating it or hiring a hacker to delete their entire site.

answered Apr 7 '11 at 13:11
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Landon Swan
569 points
  • If you decided to do this, I'd go as far as getting the info from them on where to wire the 15,000 ... otherwise you may be stuck chasing a ghost. With a bank account #, naming your defendant in court is easier. – Michael Pryor 8 years ago
  • Very true Michael. I'd also document the ENTIRE process, showing clearly they are extorting you. It may be best to have a friend post a complaint on your company. Then have the friend email them and say it has been resolved, or email you and show it has been resolved. After they still require 15k to take down the complaint, you have pretty good evidence against them. – Landon Swan 8 years ago

2

I am tempted to say, "that's the price you pay for a wide open internet" but I wont. However, this really is an abuse of free speech. It goes much further than a single individual; how do you think Proctor and Gamble felt when their logo was likened to a satanic symbol and their sales and stock plummeted? The greatest strength of the internet is also it's greatest weakness. It empowers the tiniest of us to have significant impact on the giants around us. This, in no way, makes it OK for the kind of slander you are describing, but I do think there really is very little we can do about it, except maybe everyone should learn to follow that old adage to take things with a grain of salt.

To answer your question: 1. Build as many positive references as you can to surround the negative with multiple positives and 2. Counter-punch the negative with a "This publication is a scam" article, prominently placed on the offenders search results to counter act the effects when someone decides to research the errant claim. Good Luck!

answered Apr 9 '11 at 06:58
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Craig Robertson
311 points

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