It didn’t take long once the pressure was on to shut down Realtor-complaints.com. The Web site was misusing the REALTOR® trademark, posting false complaints about real estate practitioners, and demanding money to have the complaints removed from the site.
On Jan. 10, I wrote a post about the site and more than two dozen readers responded. Many recounted their stories of finding their name on Realtor-complaints.com and being asked to pay to have the complaint removed. NAR and many state associations were working in concert to end the misuse of the trademark. Yesterday, a page appeared indicating that the site had been sold and that it would be re-launching May 1. Today, the site is simply a page of links operated by one of the advertising sites.
The WHOIS record indicates that the site is suspended. “That is encouraging,” says National Association of REALTORS® attorney Mike Thiel, “but we are trying to find out what that means going forward.”
One thing’s for sure: The closure of Realtor-complaints.com isn’t the end of such Internet scams. My Jan. 10 post included simple steps you can take to manage your own reputation online. But there’s one step you should never have to take: paying money to have false information removed from a site.
Stacey is vice president of business-to-business communications for the National Association of REALTORS®, overseeing the association's key communications with NAR members and REALTOR® association executives.