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Could Posting Online Reviews Land You in Legal Trouble?

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB) — Could posting an online consumer review land you in legal trouble?

It was on the website Yelp that a Virginia woman said she was billed by a contractor for work that wasn’t done and that he damaged her home. The contractor now wants $750, 000 from her for damage he claims was done to his reputation.

Springfield Attorney Paul Nicolai said it’s very hard for a business or anyone else to prove defamation. He said if it’s strictly an opinion, or if the claims are true, there’s no case. And he said even if the information is incorrect, it has to be proven that the person knew their comments were untrue and that they were designed to cause damage.

Milagros Johnson is the Director of the Springfield Mayor’s Office of Consumer Information. She says if consumers want a resolution, they should stick to the facts. An angry email or letter may be ignored.

“There’s consumer protection, there’s small claims court,” Johnson said. “There are a lot of options for you. Don’t take the quick, easy way out and go online and post a negative remark. If you feel that strongly about going online and posting something, be very selective about what words you choose.”

Johnson said facts more than opinions help guide other consumers when it comes to making choices about products and services. She also said companies are monitoring Facebook and Twitter for their name to pop up. So if you tweet or post your complaint, it might get a quick response.

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