WARNING! Some companies in the timeshare industry can use fake news to discredit legitimate firms!
Some company owners can put anything up on the internet using false identities. They are able to do this as they are not governed by any government or regulatory body that will take an interest in holding them to account for the stories they publish. This is a common issue that many of us are encountering at an alarming rate and is used as a tactic to place distance between the author and the content of the incorrect story but to extract maximum damage to a legitimate company in the same marketplace. It seems that as soon as the fake news is taken down, another one appears. If enough people report them hopefully it will prompt the relevant companies or authorities to take action and reduce the amount of fake news designed to destabilise the target company and their clients. False or misleading stories are being published at a daily rate across all sectors, not just the legal one.
No legitimate company would ever put up derogatory remarks on the internet, even if they are true – these are not genuine marketing tactics of well managed enterprises. The legitimate company is often targeted because it is at the forefront of the sector and using such incriminating stories puts doubts in to the minds of their own clients and of those prospective clients who are trying desperately to identify a reliable and appropriate legal services provider to help them resolve a significant issue. Due to the fact that they are not regulated the companies using these tactics often escape scrutiny and are able to produce other damaging stories unless the target firm is prepared to invest significant sums in pursuing a legal action against them.
The irony is that often these article promoting fake news lead to us receiving more enquiries. Scare tactics, rantings and personal attacks are sometimes easy to see through and noted for what they are, unethical.
Sarah Waddington Solicitors explore how scam companies use fake news to discredit legitimate firms.
Firstly, check the source of the news and look deeply into the content – is it a well-known tabloid or a locally run news site? If a legitimate firm had done half the things they are accused of, they would be in very serious disciplinary difficulties.
Check the grammar, spelling and punctuation of the news piece. Bad grammar is normally a clue that it’s a piece of fake news as editors from credible news outlets wouldn’t allow bad grammar or poorly produced articles to be published.
If it’s an online article, look in the address bar of your browser and you should see a padlock. A green padlock signifies the site is safe as it means the site has an SSL certificate. It’s worth noting that anyone can purchase an SSL certificate, but the lack of one is something to be wary of.
All websites should have a contact section, or a link which takes you through to an email address or contact form to get in contact with the company. If you have found a way to contact the company and real people reply to you, this will help confirm its existence. Check that the contact address is genuine and matches a real business. Remember, if the business claims to be incorporated you can check their credentials on the Companies House website.
Another step to take is to check out the company and the people who work there to see if they are regulated by one of the approved legal services regulators. You will generally be able to trace a firm claiming to be regulated on the website of the regulatory body.
Remember that claims management companies can charge a lot of money to simply introduce you to a firm of solicitors, when you can go directly to a law firm and pay a fraction of the cost.
If they tell you that they are working with a firm of solicitors, simply say you want to know the firms name and that no firm of solicitors can act on your behalf without taking your instructions personally (not via a third party). The fee being paid by the firm of solicitors to the company introducing you to them bust also be disclosed to you. It is important that you understand that although a company may recommend that you use a firm of solicitors, it can often be because they have a financial interest in doing so. Remember to always ask the solicitor and the firm making the introduction to the solicitor whether there are any other connections between the two of them that may affect the independence of their advice and their ability to act in your best interests.
We hope false identities on the internet will soon be governed by a government body so that companies producing untrue and damaging stories can be held responsible for their illegitimate acts of creating fake news to discredit legitimate firms.
For more information on this, please contact us today and we’d be more than happy to answer any questions that you may have!