Over the years individuals and corporations alike have discovered the power of Ripoff Report and its ability to drive customers either to or away from their businesses.

Whether you’re the author or the subject of a Ripoff Report, you understand just how quickly and effectively the website can show up in a Google search and the impact that a negative review can have on a company’s online reputation.

In this article, we will explain what Ripoff Report is, how it works, how to remove Ripoff Report reviews and protect your online reputation.

Ripoff Report: its history, audience and purpose

Founded by entrepreneur and self-described consumer advocate Ed Magedson in 1998, Ripoff Report has grown into one of the most popular destinations for consumer complaints on the Internet, along with a similar site called Complaints Board.

Unlike the latter site, which allows for both appraisals and criticisms, Ripoff Report specializes in negative reviews; it’s an online loudspeaker of sorts that warns consumers about people and places to watch out for. Free to use, Ripoff Report provides a forum for anyone who feels wronged by a person or company — and who wants to broadcast those wrongs across the Web.

In order to post a complaint on Ripoff Report, a user must supply basic information, such as name, email and physical address, which is used for the site’s verification purposes. A Ripoff Report user can choose to be contacted by a lawyer, government authority, consumer advocate or member of the media for support. Or s/he can choose total anonymity. Ripoff Report doesn’t investigate whether a user’s complaints are true, a policy that has obviously led to false reviews.

How to remove Ripoff Report reviews and protect your online reputation 

Though Ripoff Report states in clear terms that it will under no circumstances completely remove a review from its website (even by request from the original author of the review), it does allow for certain actions designed to resolve a disputed report. The options include updates, rebuttals, and its Ripoff Report Corporate Advocacy Program (CAP).

Log in to post updates.

If the original author of a report wants to attach new information to the old review — usually more complaints — a retraction of the original report or the resolution of the dispute, s/he can log in to the website and post an update. Because Ripoff Report must verify that the updater is the same person as the author, the original email address and password must be used.

Post rebuttals at your own risk.

If anyone wishes to add anything to a report, the company allows for rebuttals, either from the individual or company mentioned in the report or other parties affected by the entity in question.

Somewhat akin to an Internet “flame war,” rebuttals on Ripoff Report appear below the original Ripoff Report. They document, in chronological order, responses that support or refute the original claim. As is frequently the case with flame wars, rebuttals (regardless of sincerity or coherence) often prove futile and, in fact, can further damage credibility through the continued promotion of the original report.

Read the CAP fine print.

Ripoff Report doesn’t explicitly state what its CAP does. It does say that it “engages your business in a process that helps to satisfy customer complaints and make amends for past mistakes.”

More importantly, CAP isn’t free — and Ripoff Report doesn’t publish its pricing up front. Cost is determined by a sliding scale, and expense can range from a few hundred to tens of thousands of dollars, depending on the case.

Members of Ripoff Report’s CAP, which the site calls “verified safe” businesses, see their original report(s) prefaced by one or more editorial statements posted by Ripoff Report staff. Sample language sounds like “after investigation, the company does not defraud its customers,” “does not scam customers” and “has made amends with its customers.” This means that original complaints are often difficult to find, buried under new investigative reports that don’t necessarily address the issues in question.

Ripoff Report CAP members include Cash4Gold, a mail-in precious metals refinery, and 1-800LoanMart, a direct financer auto loan company.

Know how to remove Ripoff Report reviews and protect your online reputation, and exercise your rights.