Most of the negative information posted online against small businesses comes from past employees or competitors. Neither is often very smart. They often make mistakes. In order to successfully combat such attacks on your company’s reputation, you need to capitalize on these mistakes wherever possible.
Case Study: We terminated an employee who immediately went online and created a fake account with Merchant Circle (a very popular directory for small businesses), and tried to pose as Performance Media Placement. This fake account showed up almost immediately on the Internet and was intended to make our company look like a scam. This ex-employee posted a listing as us using verbiage such as “we will rip you off”. Did we mention how dumb some of these people can be? I doubt anyone would have taken this seriously, but we continued to pursue this false listing anyway.
We contacted Merchant Circle and told them our problem. They verified that we were the real Performance Media Placement and that the other account was a fraud. They then disclosed the email of the person that set up this listing. This ex-employee had used a Gmail account with their name (firstname.lastname@example.org). This is the kind of mistake that is easy to take advantage of. Having determined their identity, we quickly called this ex-employee and asked that they remove the listing. They refused. We then called our local police department, who quickly dispatched an officer. The officer proceeded to call this employee for details of the investigation and in the conversation convinced him to remove the fake account. Problem solved in less than a day from the day we discovered it. If law enforcement had declined to pursue the action or Merchant Circle refused to remove the listing, knowing the ex-employee’s information will allow you to respond these fraudulent claims by calling them out on their real identity.
An alternate solution would to contact the ex-employee’s current employer and apply pressure there, at the very least by warning them that if they ever part ways with this employee in a negative way, their reputation will be at risk. Be sure not to break any non-disclosure laws your state might have against revealing the details of the person’s employment history.
If you aren’t sure who is posting fraudulent blogs or calling your company a scam, you can use www.emailfinder.com to try to find out. If you are willing to spend some money, a private investigator with connections to law enforcement can dig even deeper.
We’d like to thank Merchant Circle for their ability to be reached and their professional assistance in helping us resolve this fake listing very quickly. What a fantastic company!