Internet Reputation Management Scams
By Megan Fitzpatrick
In this day and age, when technology infiltrates almost every aspect of day-to-day life, internet searches on a potential employee, roommate, even blind date are the norm. Unfortunately, for some people, the likelihood that someone will use an Internet search engine to research them can be a source of great anxiety. Whether it is a negative post on a community site or a mug shot for an arrest that cannot be removed, blemishes appear and can hinder oneâ€™s opportunities.Â For a lot of these people they may turn to Internet reputation managers or Search Engine Optimizers in order to clean up negative impressions their Internet searches may yield. There are over 65 million results related to SEOs, the majority of which purport to offer some type of relief related to negative searches available, whether for an individual or a company. For the consumer, these companies can be scams and may serve to make the problematic page in question even worse.
These companies will allegedly help you change what shows up in your results, but this requires a lot of work, including an in depth understanding of search algorithms and what is required to hide or promote searches on search engines. They will create positive pages to lower the possibility of a negative page being higher up on the search frequency, or even claim to be able to remove negative reports about an individual. The likelihood someone will be able to remove false information from a third partyâ€™s website is highly unlikely and often illegal, and should serve as a serious warning the company will not be able to deliver on their promises.
A company can charge high fees and promise results, without delivering. They may even initially make good on their word, only to have the negative reports resurface to the top of a search engine weeks after the service is â€ścompleted.â€ť An SEO or IRM can even serve to make things worse. Companies and individuals have reported various companies who will feed off of the negative reports, making them even more prevalent, unless an individual pays them exorbitant fees.Â Obviously these are the worst-case scenarios, but should you decide to hire an Internet Reputation Manager or Search Engine Optimizer, be on the lookout for some serious warning signs:
- No Address or Customer Service Phone #- Creating a website is a simple process and can lend an air of legitimacy to almost any operation. A professional website does not make a professional business.Â A company where you can speak with or visit should you encounter problems is a more reliable option.
- Fake Awards or â€śAs Seen Onâ€ť Citations- Research when and where a company received an award or appeared on a television program. False credentials can mislead the consumer into thinking they are working with a respectable company if they do not look further into these accolades.
- No BBB rating or short term BBB presence- a business not licensed with the BBB is harder to track negative reports about. A high BBB rating that has only been around for a few months is also not as reliable as a high rating for a long period of time.
- PayPal only payment options- a company that does not accept credit cards often does so in order to insure disgruntled clients cannot dispute charges with their credit card companies.
- No money back or long-term guarantees- if a company is confident in their services and abilities, they should be willing to offer some type of security regarding them.
Have you been scammed by an online Â reputation management company? Tell us about it by posting a comment: