Consumer Reports

A lot of online product reviews aren't real. Here's how to spot a fake

Customers are constantly looking for insights into which products, brands, or services they can trust before purchasing anything.

NBC Universal, Inc.

In a recent survey, 43% of people in the U.S. said that they find customer reviews on the internet to be very helpful, and some even consider them when making a purchase decision. But ever wonder whether those glowing five-star reviews you often see are real?

It’s hard to know for sure. Consumer Reports gives you tips to help you recognize what’s authentic, and what’s not.

After her bad experience, Kay Dean decided to create “Fake Review Watch,” her own YouTube channel and website to help create awareness and fight back against online reviews.

In fact, research from Fakespot found that 42% of Amazon’s reviews were not real. So how can you know?

One major sign that something fishy might be going on is when you see a bunch of very positive reviews all posted on the same day. Fake reviews can be grouped together, so it’s better to skip them!

Another red flag is when you see similar wording or phrasing in multiple reviews. Several reviews from different users that have the same “Wow, this product changed my life!” may not be authentic.

Anyone is allowed to leave reviews on Amazon, even if they didn’t buy the product. So look for reviews that have the Verified Purchase tag. This means that the reviewer actually bought the product on Amazon.

It may also help you to look at other reviews from the same user. Click on their profile and if you see a pattern of five stars and similar language, those reviews may be fake or even paid.

And if you’re still not sure, check Fakespot, which uses an algorithm to evaluate the quality of customer reviews. Paste a product URL into their analyzer and let your good judgment decide!

Recently the FTC proposed a new rule that would prohibit the creation, purchase, distribution, or sale of fake or false consumer reviews, which seeks to prevent unfair and deceptive practices in consumer testimonials. Once the notices are published in the Federal Register, the public can submit their comments, which will be considered when deciding whether to implement the proposed rule.

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