They’re back and they have DPC in their sight. Online SEO scams and internet copied directories have identified DPC as their target. This happened back in 2013 with Concierge Medicine directories, review sites, unknown news blogs set up for the purposes of backlinks and SEO [In search engine optimization (SEO) terminology a backlink is a hyperlink that links from a Web page, back to your own Web page or Web site. Also called an Inbound Link (IBL). Generating backlinks has become common practice for search engine optimization, or SEO. The more backlinks a webpage has, the better the chance that the page will rank highly in search results for relevant keywords. Source: TechTerms.com] and it is back again. You already know to be on the lookout for fake reviews when you’re searching products and services on the web. But beware of these particular unfamiliar DPC directory sites too…
By Michael Tetreault, Editor-In-Chief
(Original version published APRIL 15, 2013) Last Updated December 1, 2017 — There is a trend on the web right now that for-profit companies and, sometimes, scam-sters are setting up fake information and DPC directory web sites for the purpose of collecting your personal information. Let me tell you how this plays out specifically … You go to Google or Bing and type in a search term looking for information on a particular topic. Next, what pops up is what looks and feels like a directory web site. Usually you can spot them quite easily because they never have an About Us section or a verifiable telephone number to call. Usually what happens next is that there are links inside the text or graphics on the site that encourage you to click and take you to a different business or related web site entirely. They may even go so far as to take your images, photos and office contact information and post it on their site without your permission of submission first. There, these sites try to sell you a product or service or potentially try to persuade you to click on ads, “update your profile”, or give them more of your contact information (name, email, telephone, etc.).
So, what can you do?
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) wants you to know that when you are on the web and you see a directory site touting a great product or service — then potentially linking to another site to either collect personal information from you or sell you something – be careful and be very, very wary. (Source: http://www.clarkhoward.com/videos/clark-howard/shopping-retail/beware-of-these-fake-product-review-sites/vgTpx/)
The FTC helps consumers recognize and avoid deceptive claims made by fake news sites. To learn more, see the consumer alert Fake News Sites Promote Bogus Benefits, and the video Free Trial Offers, which explains how free trials are often used to market other products.
Beware of Fake Physician or Consumer Review Sites
The second area of which we want you to be aware is online directory and online review sites. As DPC becomes more mainstream, you are going to see more and more of these sites appear. This will include categories in the area of direct pay medicine, cash-only medicine and concierge medical care. Categorical Review sites will treat these terms like specialties, despite what your term preference is. The fact is, not every review can be trusted — some reviews will be downright fake. Recently, one retailer was exposed for offering money for good reviews on his merchandise. He was offering 100% rebates to any customer who subsequently left a 5-star review on his site. This is evident on Freelancer.com, too, where you’ll find a number of advertised “jobs” looking to pay people to write fake positive reviews for retailers.
So, what can you do?
How can you tell the scam reviews from the real ones? There’s no sure way, but there are a few things you can look for:
- Products or services that have a lot of reviews are far more trustworthy. There is always more safety in numbers.
- Reviews that are completely one-sided — either glowingly good or glaringly bad — should be taken with a grain of salt. The best reviews examine all sides of the product or service.
- Sometimes, consider the source: For example, Clark Howard, a consumer advocate, and nationally radio talk show host, tends to dismiss hotel reviews from those who live in New York City or London, as they are so accustomed to sub-par housing, any hotel where the paint isn’t peeling off there will get a great review.
In the end, use your best judgment when looking over patient and consumer opinions and reviews. Look for lots of reviews and check out several review sites before deciding, not just one. If you have any questions about a particular web site that you’ve run across, let us know. We will check into it and potenetially inform others. The Editors at The Direct Primary Care Journal are trusted journalists and healthcare professionals that have been covering this field for years. We’re happy to help in any way we can. After all, we believe free market health care delivery (and direct primary care) has a story to tell. We believe it should be told well and with integrity.