How to spot fake product reviews during busy online shopping season

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) – Shoppers often depend on customer reviews to make the right decision, but the Better Business Bureau (BBB) warns many of those reviews could be phony.

In the busy holiday shopping season, fake online reviews could leave you with a bad purchase.

It is nearly impossible for e-commerce websites to quickly remove every fake review, despite having tools in place to do so, according to the BBB.

“They know that we are shopping more, we’re looking for deals more, we’re spending more time on our smart devices, and so their opportunity goes through the roof with being able to take your money,” Robyn Householder, President and CEO of BBB of Middle Tennessee, said. “So we really want consumers to slow down, do their due diligence.”

According to the BBB, there are several ways to identify potential fake reviews. Here are some tips to help you recognize them.

  • Look out for generic reviewer profiles, and reviewers with generic names like John Smith or Jane Doe.
  • Read reviews by customers with verified purchases.
  • Examine the quality of product reviews. For example, a five-star or one-star review with just a word or two in the written portion might be a fake review.
  • Check the grammar and spelling, because if you read a review out loud and it doesn’t sound natural, it could be fake.
  • Find out if the reviewer received a free product because if you notice every review comes from someone who received a free product, think twice.
  • Look at the number of reviews. If a product only has a few reviews compared to similar products, it’s likely the product is less than reliable.
  • Try a third-party tool that helps weed out fake reviews.
  • Report fake reviews.

Over the summer, the Federal Trade Commission proposed a new rule that would penalize businesses $50,000 if they’re caught selling or buying fake reviews, or having employees post reviews.

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