Collin County

Women Say Company Bullied Them for Leaving Bad Reviews Online

Shocked and stunned is how two Collin County women say they feel after being targeted for leaving bad reviews online.

Both asked that NBC 5 not use their names or show their faces after a business posted their personal information online.

"There is no way a business should be operating this way," one of the women said.

It all started when a poster left a one-star review on Google concerning her experience with property management firm Preston Management.

The company responded to the review by posting her full name, date of birth -- even her social security number -- and threatened her with legal action if she did not review the post, stating "We will be filing suit against you and all your friends that have left reviews."

Shocked, the two women NBC 5 spoke with, jumped in online criticizing the company with their own negative reviews and became targets themselves.

The company responded by posting their full names, date of birth and any information they could find, including what vehicle they drove.

"He [wrote], 'I will post more if you don't take this review down," one woman said. "It was ominous. It was really threatening."

"You shouldn't be afraid to say what you feel about what's happened," said Phylissia Clark with the Better Business Bureau of Dallas.

The Better Business Bureau said retaliation for bad reviews online is not uncommon, but a company posting sensitive information online is unusual.

"If you think your information has been exposed, you would need to do everything you'd do if you've been the victim of identity theft," Clark said.

The BBB suggested visiting and filing complaints with the Federal Trade Commission and the Texas Attorney General's Office. The BBB said it could not give legal advice, but suggested speaking with an attorney to see what legal recourse the people may have.

According to their website, Preston Management oversees the leasing of apartments and business complexes. NBC 5 repeatedly reached out to Preston Management through phone calls and emails, but did not receive a response.

Both women said the ordeal left them stunned a company in the business of handling people's private information would use it as a threat.

"You're entrusting these people with your credit history, your reputation, everything you hand over to these people and they have everything at their fingertips and this person is using it to try and threaten to destroy someone," one of them said.

Both women expressed frustration that there was not an easy way to get the threatening posts removed from Google. After NBC 5 contacted Google about the posts, they were removed, leaving Preston Management with a five-star review.

A Google spokesperson issued the following statement.

We provide reviews on Google Maps to help users make informed decisions on businesses and services. We believe that overall the reviews system is an opportunity for great businesses to shine and attract more customers. The vast majority of reviews on Google Maps are legitimate. However, we understand that even one bad actor can lead to a poor customer experience. That's why we have an entire team dedicated to addressing these sorts of issues directly and are taking action. We know there's ongoing work to do and we want to keep doing better.  

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