Fraudulent use of website testimonials

Would you believe it if I told you in just a few hours today I have found 22 web design companies using my client testimonials as their own, yes TWENTY TWO.

This investigation was kicked off by a call from a client over the weekend, who had found the wonderful testimonial she had given me, on an unfamiliar site.  I found that they had not only used hers,  but testimonials from two more of my clients, including one I did for some pro-bono design. The only change they had made to the testimonials was to replace my company name with theirs.

This is not the first time I have had content stolen from my web site but it is the first time for testimonial swipes. Luckily I have a tried and tested method for dealing with this highly unethical behavior.

  1. Take a screen shot of the offending page. Always good to have visual proof of the “offense”
  2. Contact the offending web site and request immediate removal of material. I prefer to do this via email than over the phone so I have a paper trail of communication. If the only contact is through an online form I make sure I take a copy of what I send.
  3. Visit whois.net and run a search on the domain name to see where the site is hosted – you can establish this by copying the nameservers and running them through Google.
  4. Contact the hosting company and alert them to the fact they are hosting a website with fraudulent or copyrighted content. Hosting companies take this very seriously and will quickly shut a site down if the webmaster does not rectify the situation.
  5. Contact Google and get any ranked pages excluded from their search

The initial offending company responded quickly to my email this morning and called me to say that it had been a mistake and they were just in the process of building their web site and were using my client testimonials as filled text. Ummm,  if that is the case why bother removing my company name and replacing it with your own? They did take down the fraudulent page but the testimonial swipe was by no means a “mistake”. They must think I was born yesterday.

So that is 1 down and 21 to go. It is going to be a busy week but I will not stop until I have addressed everyone of these pathetic web site companies. Even found a couple of companies here on my own turf in Chicago

I am considering creating a wall of shame and naming names to bring to light all of these unscrupulous web design companies, got quite a stash of screen shots to share.

© Copyright 2011 Chicago web designer

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