very interesting read: from Florida realtors.org
Realtor complaint website shut down
ORLANDO, Fla. – Jan. 25, 2013 – Florida Realtors News first reported a problematic website that appeared to post fake reviews of Realtors – most of them negative – two weeks ago. Yesterday, the website was apparently taken down.
If a Realtor contacted the website, realtor-complaints.com, he was told that his negative review would be removed for a fee. According to Stacey Moncrieff, an associate editor with NAR’s Real Estate Today magazine, a number of factors seemed to suggest that website owners faked the reviews, such as similarly worded negative comments applied to more than one Realtor.
Once the website came to the attention of Florida Realtors and other state associations, the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) took on the issue, working to stop the review website based, in part, on misuse of NAR’s trademark.
“The NAR legal department responded to our concerns and immediately took steps,” says Florida Realtors’ Vice President and General Counsel Margy Grant. “I believe their quick action led to this website’s deactivation. This is great news for Realtors.”
The future of the website address is unclear, however. Moncrieff says she understood the website address had been sold and planned to relaunch May 1. However, even that message has now been taken down.
“This was a classic case of the Realtor association working as it should,” says Grant. “Members saw a problem and contacted Florida Realtors. We, in turn, contacted NAR. We all worked together.”
Grant, however, also signaled a warning. “Members should continue to report any kind of scam,” she says. “This kind of behavior tends to repeat itself with efforts by copycats who think they see an easy way to make money. If a website owner asks for money to remove a negative review, consider that a red flag – something isn’t right.”
Realtors can take common sense steps to protect themselves from negative reports in online reputation websites, as suggested by Moncrieff:
• Make sure all your profiles on social media sites, Realtor.com, etc., are complete, up-to-date and consistent.
• Ask previous customers to review you in legitimate forums, such as Yelp and LinkedIn.
• Search Google and Yahoo for your name and your company’s name. Save each search as a browser favorite and check them daily.
• Sign up for Google Alerts and using your name, create an alert to be notified when your name appears in a search. Also set up alerts for variations of your name, your company name and other keywords.
• Ask customers where they search for information about real estate and other professionals.
• Correct errors quickly. Immediately contact an offending website and be willing to prove your case with information from your MLS or other sources. But don’t be tempted to pay to have information removed.
© 2013 Florida Realtors®