In addition, when court orders are served to search engines and the URLs are removed, they may show up again several months later at a new URL within the site.
There are many reasons why Ripoff Report is bad news, but if you read further, there are also ways that you can work to repair your reputation and move on with your life.
What is Ripoff Report?
According to its website, Ripoff Report is a worldwide consumer reporting website and publication, by consumers, for consumers, to file and document complaints about companies or individuals. Ripoff Report requires creating an account before a consumer can file a “report”; however, it does not verify the identity of the users.
Companies or individuals who have been named in a report may respond with a rebuttal at the bottom of the same webpage, which explains their side of the story. There is no charge to submit a rebuttal, but the individual must sign up for a registered account. Alternatively, to repair a person’s damaged reputation because of something that was falsely written about them on the website, Ripoff Report asks the individual to pay for investigations of complaints and responses carried out by “Ripoff Report’s pool of Arbitrators”.
Why Ripoff Report is Dangerous?
While Ripoff Report encourages and even requires posters to file truthful reports, it “does not guarantee” that all reports are authentic or accurate. It advises consumers to “read what they can” to make their decisions based upon an examination of all available information.
In certain cases, disgruntled ex-employees, ex-lovers or competitors post fabricated stories about business owners or an individual that is simply not true.
There in lies the problem.
Ripoff Report does NOT guarantee truth. So, then, how does a consumer know what to believe?
What’s worse, unlike the Better Business Bureau, Ripoff Report does not hide reports of “satisfied” complaints. ALL complaints remain public and unedited in order to create a working history on the company or individual in question.
If you are one of the unlucky people to have your name slandered on Ripoff Report, get ready. You will likely be discovered by millions of consumers who are searching for information about you or your business. Most search engines automatically discover find reports using key words relating to your Ripoff Report.
Who Created Ripoff Report?
Since 1998, Ripoff Report has been operated by Xcentric Ventures, LLC which is based in Tempe, Arizona. The mastermind behind the website is Ed Magedson. Advocates of Ripoff Report say Magedson champions consumer rights while adversaries say he purposefully destroys reputations. Magedson’s site allows users to complain anonymously about any business or person, and no matter what, he says he will not remove the posting.
He says he set up the site to promote his self-published book “Rip-off Revenge” and to give consumers a forum to vent. Magedson has even said: “If something is not fair and it’s upside down, I want to change it.”
Despite his “good intentions,” Magedson boasts that most of the time, a day or week doesn’t go by that he doesn’t get threatened with a lawsuit.” In fact, Ripoff Report has been sued more than 70 times but never lost a U.S. case or “paid one dime to anyone ever.”
Can You Refute
A Report on a Ripoff Report?
You can. But here’s the catch.
Companies or individuals who have been named in a Ripoff Report may respond at the bottom of the webpage, refuting their side of the story. There is no charge to submit a rebuttal, but the person must sign up for a registered account.
Although it seems like a good idea to reply with your own explanation, it’s still questionable whether it’s in your best interest to respond. A response can ultimately add more fuel to the fire and give the original complaint more relevance in a Google search result. It can also give the original poster a reason to make further comments, calling more attention to the negative review.
That’s one option.
The other option you have to “repair your reputation, is to pay for investigations of complaints and responses carried out by “Ripoff Report’s pool of Arbitrators”, and to edit the webpage. This is an example of how Ripoff Report profits from rebuilding reputations: by having them destroyed first.
For instance, Ed Magedson will accept thousands of dollars per case for his corporate advocacy program, in which companies can place content above the offending comments after agreeing to handle customer complaints promptly and making a “a written commitment to providing superior customer satisfaction regarding their products and services.”
Has Anyone Tried to Take it Down?
In 2007, William Stanley established the Defamation Action League to force Ed Magedson to shut down Ripoff Report. The Defamation Action League claimed to be dedicated to fighting online defamation, and as such, the league’s strategy involved protesting the companies which hosted Ripoff Report by setting up sites where people could protest. The DAL also allowed people to engage in annoyance strategies such as placing classified ads with the companies’ telephone numbers for products they weren’t selling or sending mass emails to other customers.
The plan backfired and was considered a defamatory act in its own right. Later that year, Magedson filed a lawsuit and ultimately William Stanley and his cohorts were found liable for defamation and making death threats.
In 2011, the Third District Court of Appeals in Florida became involved after Ripoff Report printed false and defamatory information about the operator of a Florida drug treatment center, saying the owner was a convicted felon and that the employees illegally distributed medication.
The Court even went as far as ruling that “The business practices of Xcentric, as presented by the evidence before this Court, are appalling, however much as this Court may disapprove of business practices like those embraced by Xcentric, the law on this issue is clear. Xcentric enjoys complete immunity from any action brought against it as a result of the postings of third party users of its website.”
Still, How Can Ripoff Report be Legal?
Ripoff Report is immune from liability due to federal law under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. The law states that websites are not liable for the content posted on their websites by third parties. To a degree, the law makes sense. If every time someone posted derogatory content about another person on social media and they imposed legal liability on those platforms, there would be no social media.
However, the law also protects websites like Ripoff Report that refuse to remove false content even after it has been proven that certain material posted on their sites is actually false, the original author of the offending content requests its removal, or a court of law declares the report defamatory.
This can be very frustrating, especially when both parties request the removal of the offending content. Ripoff Report’s argument is that if they allowed parties to remove postings, it would create a means for big companies to bully consumers into submission.
How Does Ripoff Report Profit?
The company actually makes several million dollars of revenue a year. That’s because of its policy which allows individuals or businesses to pay a flat fee based on the volume of complaints received about them. The fee (which can’t be any lower than $5,500) pays for “inspectors” to ensure that complaints have been resolved. In turn, new headlines and text is inserted above the original complaint. If the complaints return, the site deletes the positive headline and copy. Companies can also choose the option of paying $2,000 to have a third-party arbitrator establish statements of fact in postings. Ripoff Report will redact any wrong facts but leave in everything else.
And If You Dont Have
The Money To Refute?
What makes websites like Ripoff Report even more dangerous is that it has no trouble allowing users to publish the identities and photographs of minors as well as content that is clearly offensive, homophobic, racist, and misogynistic. In an era where society is trying to prevent cyberbullying and online harassment, the insult endured by a Ripoff Report is only aiding to the dilemma, not helping it.
Parents have unsuccessfully asked Ripoff Report to remove identifying details about their children, and many ordinary people cannot afford to pay large quantities of money to a website that falsely names them or defames their reputation. Individuals, families and businesses alike have all been victimized and emotionally and/or financially paralysed by this operation.
Can I Sue Ripoff Report?
Ripoff Report’s legal page claims that “you can’t sue Ripoff Report just because we provide a forum for speech.”
The website has dedicated an entire facts page to the topic. Read here:
Still, there are ways to file a lawsuit against the original author of the report for defamation. That’s assuming that you have enough to prove your case in a court of law and you have the means to show that the report made about you is false.
If the report about you is true then you do not have a valid claim for defamation, and the option to sue will not work for you. Remember, you will likely only be able to sue the author of the report and you will incur expensive legal fees in your pursuit.
If you do win your case and obtain a court order declaring the offending report is false and/or defamatory, you can finally present the court order to Google or other search engines to remove the link.
Pitman vs. Ripoff Report
In 2016, US surgeon Dr John Pitman, sued Ripoff Report for USD$60 million alleging Ed Magedson paid someone (Darren Meade) to write false content that in turn destroyed his practice. The report was published as a result of court case in 2001 where Pitman’s ex-wife shot and killed a neighbor. The wife said she was defending herself against a home invasion, however, in 2011, she was charged with murder, alleging she lured the victim into her scheme to frame Pitman, with whom she was involved in a custody battle.
Pitman’s ex-wife was eventually convicted and sentenced to life in prison without parole. Months after the trial ended, a series of posts related to the case began appearing on Ripoff Report. Accusations against Dr. Pitman included suggestions that he possessed child pornography, depictions of child torture, and bomb-making recipes. The accusations published online ultimately destroyed his medical career.
Pitman’s complaint alleges that the posts on Ripoff Report were intended to force him to extort money from him through Ripoff’s corporate advocacy program. Pitman’s case has since been moved from state to federal court. Ripoff Report argues that the allegations made against Pitman in are, in fact, true. The company also says that it is protected under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which states that websites are not liable for the content posted on their websites by third parties.
REALISTIC WAYS TO REMOVE A RIPOFF REPORT
|Have the Ripoff Report result buried||You’ll need to find a reputable online reputation management company that specializes in SEO practices or removal services. These firms can attempt to remove the Ripoff Report review, and they can also offer content outreach and link building tactics to promote positive, high-ranking content about your business that has been optimized to bury the Ripoff Report complaint.|
|Get a Court Order and File a Takedown with Google of yourself||As mentioned earlier, if you can prove to the court that your Ripoff Report is defamatory and untrue, then Google will typically comply and delist the complaint from its search index. However, Ripoff Report has been known to move the delisted review to a new URL, which causes the review to show up in search results and begin ranking all over again.|
Online Defamation Defenders Help?
Online Defamation Defenders can offer guaranteed removal of the RipOff Report post from search engines. How it works is you hire us on a contingency basis, we get the report removed fully from search engines and when it is gone we charge your card. This is the Gold Standard in Ripoff Report removals. If you have a Ripoff Report ranking for your name or company we strongly recommend you give us a call at 800 914 7628 or complete the form at the top of this page for a free consultation. We can help you!
After our process is complete the RipOffReport will not come up even if they search “your company + ripoffreport”.
Does De-Indexing Take?
Our process takes about 15-60 days to completely remove the report from searches for your company or personal name. This process is permanent. Don’t allow websites like Ripoff Report to permanently damage your reputation. Take action immediately!