What to look for when identifying fake reviews while shopping online

Chicago
By Chicago 3 Min Read

LOS ANGELES — When shopping online, many of us read reviews to learn how good a product is before deciding to buy.

“When I buy something, I want to make sure it won’t break or that it will be worth my time that it will last,” says Consumer Reports’ Mary Beth Quirk.

However, there are times when the glowing five star reviews are fake.

Quirk acknowledges that it can be difficult to know for sure whether or not these reviews are legit, but there are some telltale signs of fake reviews to watch out for.

The first sign to look out for is language involving words like “life-changing.”

“If you see it 17 times on a page, that product better be truly life-changing,” said Quirk. “But it probably isn’t. It’s probably more likely to be a bunch of fake reviews or someone who’s been paid to do reviews and isn’t really honest about it and is just churning them out.”

Also, Quirk recommends taking a look at timestamps. Several positive reviews in a short time could be a sign of inauthenticity: “I realized one day I looked at it and there was a normal amount of reviews,” he commented. “The next day I came back and there were 20 to 50 new reviews and I saw they were all posted at the same time after I looked at the page.”

To help identify fake reviews, the website Fake place can be a great resource; uses an algorithm to rate the quality of customer reviews for products sold at major retailers.

When you shop on Amazoniait is important to check for verified purchase badges.

“Basically, anyone using Amazon could go there and leave a review for something, even if they didn’t buy it,” Quirk said. “So with the verified purchase badges, Amazon confirmed that someone bought that product through their site.”

And if a specific review raises concerns, click on the reviewer’s profile for their history.

“If you see a reviewer use the same phrase on 30 different products, take it with a grain of salt,” Quirk said.

Ultimately, Quirk says to trust your gut: “If someone’s really over the top, if the reviews are totally wild and, you know, it turns out she’s like a stapler, how does that stapler change their lives? So if it’s too good to be true, it probably is.”

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