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The "Lead Theft" Directory Problem - What Can We Do?


Tim Colling

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I see a growing problem, at least in my vertical niche, of "directory" websites that publish companies' names along with phone numbers that are NOT the numbers for those companies but rather phone numbers for lead-gen call centers that divert the callers to other companies.

I call these sites "Lead Theft Directories" because that's basically what they are doing: using companies' brand identities to attract leads that they then sell to competing companies.

One such lead theft directory is a site that used to be a reputable elder care site called caring.com. Here's an example of a lead theft page on that site with a number that is NOT the number for the company listed:



The URL for that page is: https://www.caring.com/local/in-home-care-in-san-marcos-california/a-servants-heart-care-solutions

Of course, if you buy advertising on that site (around $2,000 US per year), then they'll do you the favor of using your number, not the phony lead theft number.

I just wrote caring.com and asked them to take down that listing (I was the owner of that company in the example until I sold it last year). We'll see what they do about my request.

I speculate that I'm not the only one here who is encountering this problem more and more.

What else can we do in these situations?

Thanks!



 
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You bring up a really good point Tim.

I bet many consultants have not checked for this problem and the owners likely have no clue their brand is being used to feed competitors.
 

Tim Colling

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I'm going to ask a few of my home care clients about this. It seems just plain wrong.
I'd love to hear what they say.

There are LOTS of other examples. This form of identity theft is a very widespread practice.

Here is another site that is (I speculate) related to caring.com, doing the same thing:

Servant'S Heart In-Home Care, San Marcos, CA - The Care Centers

Here's one that is (I speculate) related to A Place For Mom, doing the same thing:

https://www.senioradvisor.com/local/a-servants-heart-in-home-care-san-marcos-ca

Here's an independent one (two listings there - one for my home care company and one for my geriatric care management company)
A Servant's Heart In-Home Care in Oceanside, CA (California) - Home Health Care Agencies
Age Advisors Home Care Agency in Oceanside, CA (California) - Home Health Care Agencies
 

JoyHawkins

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Just emailed 2 of my clients. One appears to be paying them b/c his number rings to his office. The other one definitely has a call-tracking number on it that goes to Caring.com when you call.

What a scam. I'll see what they reply with.
 

Tim Colling

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Just emailed 2 of my clients. One appears to be paying them b/c his number rings to his office. The other one definitely has a call-tracking number on it that goes to Caring.com when you call.

What a scam. I'll see what they reply with.
We did advertise with them for a number of years. They provided leads to us (and now we know how!) from time to time that almost never converted.

Their review system is interesting. If you provide them with names and phone numbers of clients or client family members, they call those people and solicit verbal reviews from them, which they then transcribe into the written reviews that you see on their site. It seemed pretty appealing to me back then.

Also, it seems like Google places some value on backlinks from caring.com, we usually saw a bit of a lift for our SEO clients when they received caring.com links. Of course, once you're no longer paying them, those links disappear.

Still seems like a form of ID theft, in a very different way.

By the way, Google may view this as no different from allowing adwords bidding on brand names, which is apparently an allowed practice (I think)

Thanks!
 

JacobMaslow

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This is a violation of the Lanham act and they can be prosecuted for that. Lanham act prohibits trademark infringement and false advertising. There are numerous state laws as well.

It is also tortuitious interference with business relations. They are attempting to interfere with your business relations illegally. The listing agency is getting in the way of your customers.

As far as the directories go, they cannot be prosecuted for trademark infringement if they remove the content within 10 days of receiving a DMCA notice.

It is a simple legal demand that informs them that the content is infringing.
I see a growing problem, at least in my vertical niche, of "directory" websites that publish companies' names along with phone numbers that are NOT the numbers for those companies but rather phone numbers for lead-gen call centers that divert the callers to other companies.

I call these sites "Lead Theft Directories" because that's basically what they are doing: using companies' brand identities to attract leads that they then sell to competing companies.

One such lead theft directory is a site that used to be a reputable elder care site called caring.com. Here's an example of a lead theft page on that site with a number that is NOT the number for the company listed:

View attachment 3130

The URL for that page is: https://www.caring.com/local/in-home-care-in-san-marcos-california/a-servants-heart-care-solutions

Of course, if you buy advertising on that site (around $2,000 US per year), then they'll do you the favor of using your number, not the phony lead theft number.

I just wrote caring.com and asked them to take down that listing (I was the owner of that company in the example until I sold it last year). We'll see what they do about my request.

I speculate that I'm not the only one here who is encountering this problem more and more.

What else can we do in these situations?

Thanks!
 

Tim Colling

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Sep 3, 2014
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Here's a quick update. I just searched for my company by name (a branded search) and caring.com, one of the leading lead snatchers, still lists our site and offers a "Request Info" widget which will take users away from our company.





Shameless!



 

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