Monday, July 6, 2009

pissedconsumer.com, ripoffreport.com, complaintsboard.com Extort, Facilitate Identity Theft, Potential FTC violations

The new, for-profit model of consumer complaint websites have left the old BBB in the dust, generating tremendous profits with which they have successfully combated nearly every legal challenge to their bold-faced facilitation of slander and libel.

Complainsboard.com, ripoffreport.com and pissedconsumer.com (formerly pissedcustomer.com, before they lost their old domain) have all jumped to the top of the Google pile whenever a search is done on the name of a person or company who has been bashed on their servers. Their successful trade in advertising to all who search the web using the name of their mark has been second only to the thinly-veiled blackmail perpetrated by their offer of "Reputation Management" services to those who have suffered form the illegitimate complaints.

Hiding behind the Right to Freedom of Speech, these clowns openly refuse to remove any posting, true or not. Unlike the Better Business Bureau, this new model is closed, and offers no third-party arbitration. Rather, these new 'slander sites' allow you to post your rebuttal. This of course is of no use when the damage is done by the illegitimate initial report, which remains in the initial search results, which show that the mark is perhaps the next Charles Manson or Bernard Madoff.

The so-called "reputation management" services offered by these anonymous providers will charge the mark about $2,000. typically to remove the damage from the site of the "reputation manager". Sound familiar?

This is a protection racket. Pay up, or we 'facilitate' the first amendment rights of anonymous people to slander you. It easily crosses the line to organized conspiracy to extort; blackmail.

The perpetrators have weathered many lawsuits attempting, for the most part, to have the name of the mark removed from the URL generated by the services. These suits have failed due to the strength of the right to free speech.

THE WEAKNESS

It appears that these sites, do not well police their own postings. Many seeking vengeance simply slander individuals as best they can put a sentence together, and post anything they can which they feel will embarrass, humiliate or endanger the mark. Herein lies your ability to combat the scam.

Many complainants have posted personally identifiable information (PII) on their marks, in hopes of doing them damage. This could include combinations of name, address, birth date, telphone number, financial information, social security number, family member names and family member financial information. Slander sites gulp the information in, without regard for the liability of posting it, because they sell the ads viewed by the many who seek the information posted by the conspirators.

But The FTC may not like that. Personally identifiable information about you can't be traded in without your consent. By posting it on ad-supported sites and not allowing you to remove it, they are certainly trading in your PII. That's an FTC violation.

With enough complaints to the FTC, this practice may be quashed. Let's try it, shall we? If you or someone you know has been a victim of some one posting your personally identifiable information on any of these slander sites, post your complaint here: https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/

If you would like help with the wording, I offer my assistance free of charge. It is critical to keep the complaint honest and accurate. Just email me the links to the PII posted, and I'll draft your complaint for you to post if it meets your approval. Again, free of charge.

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