Scam.com is a popular online complaint website with a bulletin board style forum interface for consumers to report scams and expose other fraudulent and deceptive business practices. There are 56,495 threads, 777,673 posts, and 319,058 members of the Scam.com community. The site attracts tens of thousands of visitors monthly.
According to a recent survey by BrightLocal, 86% of consumers read reviews for local businesses (including 95% of people aged 18-34). A negative review can drive away 40% of potential customers. A review on Scam.com can destroy a business.
Scam.com is a free website where people can share information and comments about scams and other fraudulent and deceptive business practices. It is organized similar to an online bulletin board site and there are categories for many popular scams, including Political Scams, MLM Scams, Internet Scams, Religious Scams, Work at Home Scams, Conspiracy Theories, Investment Scams, Science Scams, Corporate Scams, Mail Order Scams, Insurance Scams, Government Scams, Used Car Scams, Retail Scams, Charity Scams, Medical Scams, Sports Scams, Hotel Scams. There is a General Chat for scams that don’t fit into any of the above categories, and even a thread entitled “Don’t Watch These Movies".
Within the chat threads, people can ask questions about specific companies as to whether they are a scam or legitimate, although even suggesting or questioning whether a company is a scam can be damaging to the reputation of a business.
Consumer complaint websites can play an important role in protecting the public from misleading and deceptive conduct, fraud, and other civil and criminal wrongdoing, however, on Scam.com anyone can anonymously post anything about anyone, regardless of whether it is truthful or not. Scam.com does not investigate the claims made on the site and expressly disclaims any responsibility for content posted by others.
Online defamation (also called cyber libel) is a very serious matter, and you can take action against individuals that are trying to damage your reputation.
Cyber libel is defined as a false and unprivileged statement that is damaging to an individual’s reputation and published “with fault,” meaning as a result of negligence or malice.
In cyber libel cases, you must be able to prove that the person’s online statements were untrue and how they affected you or your business. If you are able to prove the content is false, you still need to be able to show damage or harm, and this can be challenging and may require accounting and financial experts — hurt feelings are not generally actionable in a defamation claim. If you are able to show damage or harm because of the statement, but the facts can be disputed, you may struggle to show the content is untrue as a matter of law.
It is very difficult to remove content from Scam.com. No matter how false or misleading the information posted about you or your company, there are broad legal protections for free speech and a vibrant Internet that make removal challenging.
Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act helps protect website hosts and internet providers from liability, as we will explore below, it also emboldens complaint sites which benefit from a free Internet and takes little responsibility for the content published on their site.
Section 230 specifies that third-party content publishers cannot be held responsible for the content of their users. This Act protects the owners of the website so that no matter what someone says about you or your business, no matter how untrue, it is not liable for the acts of these third parties. Scam.com is based on user-generated content and would likely avoid legal liability for any posts made on the site by claiming immunity under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.
Fair use allows the unlicensed use of copyright-protected works in certain circumstances. When someone takes your copyrighted content and uses it on Scam.com, by posting the logo for your company or a screenshot of your Website or image of your products, he or she will seek to claim fair use.
Fair use generally falls into the following categories: parody; commentary or critique; news; education or teaching; research or scholarship.
Many factors can determine if the material counts as “fair use”:
Because the posts on Scam.com would likely fall into protected categories of commentary or critique it is difficult to remove Scam.com reports, even if there is an arguable claim that the post is utilizing copyrighted material without the copyright holder’s permission.
A DMCA notice is an effective way to take down copyright content from Scam.com, provided the content is not deemed fair use. You can send a notification of copyright infringement to the designated agent of the site. But before sending this type of notification, you will need to gather some information as outlined below.
You must also own the copyright to the content you want to be taken down; otherwise, they cannot do anything about it.
All these elements MUST be in the DMCA, or it could get overlooked or automatically denied. Visit copyright.gov to see a more detailed list and more detailed requirements. You can also search the DMCA Designated Agent Directory to help you find the right agent at Scam.com to send the DMCA notice. That agent will then handle the removal of the website’s infringing content.
Make sure to double-check through everything before sending it and consider seeking a second opinion. Reputation management services online are a great option if you do not know what you are doing. They can help to avoid expensive legal fees that would come with using a lawyer.
The website administrator offers the following encouraging note for people seeking to remove a post on Scam.com: “You will find ‘Report’ links in many places throughout the board. These links allow you to alert the board staff to anything which you find to be offensive, objectionable or illegal.”
However, with few exceptions, Scam.com will NOT remove a post absent a court order.
Ultimately, you may choose an online reputation management company to help remove content from Scam.com.
Reputation Rhino has an experienced team of legal, public relations, marketing, and technology experts and we have helped thousands of people protect and defend their online reputation from online complaint sites like Scam.com.