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Online complaints could cost you

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – More companies and individuals are suing customers for defamation after they gripe online. Here's how Consumer Reports says you can protect yourself:

Be honest. Make sure you write only statements that are correct and can be supported. Do not exaggerate.

Don't confuse facts with opinion. You're legally protected when giving your opinion, but if it's constructed as a factual statement, that can invite a lawsuit. For example, don't go calling someone a crook or say something that could be take as a factual assertion.

Don't assume you're anonymous. Just because you didn't register before posting a review doesn't mean that a company can't track you down.

Keep your cool. Don't post an angry rant and don't fling accusations. After writing a review, hold it for a day or two and reread with a cooler head.

Check your homeowners policy. Some homeowners and renters insurance policies provide coverage for defamatory statements. Or they allow you to add the protection.