September 27, 2022

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When’s the last time you checked out online reviews to decide whether to buy something? Or where to buy it? Many of us use reviews to see the honest opinions of other buyers — but how do we know the reviews really are honest? Or from real buyers? Read on for ideas about handling fake reviews.

Companies rely on reviews to stand out from the pack. But some companies write or use fake reviews — about both how great their thing is, and how terrible their competitor is. In fact, some people have turned fake review writing into an online business by offering to write positive reviews.  

So can’t somebody do something? The short answer is: Yup. The websites and platforms (think Google, Amazon, Walmart, Yelp…among many others) where those reviews appear are well aware of the problem. Some of them do more than others to filter out the suspicious reviews, as well as finding, labeling, suspending, or delisting the companies or people who acquire those reviews. But do a quick search and you’ll see how easy it is to buy reviews. Clearly, the problem isn’t solved, and some websites and platforms need to do a much better job.

So what can we do? Where we = the FTC, we’re bringing cases (like the recent Roomster case) where we find businesses abusing the public trust. And we’ll keep doing that, plus, among other things, sharing guidance for business on dealing with reviews and advice for consumers on how to watch for fakes.

And here’s what you can do: if you suspect you’ve run across a fake review, please report it to the website or platform it shows up on. We’ve gathered a list of how to report to some major platforms that feature reviews, both for consumers and for business owners. Then, if you get no answer from the platform, or no action to fix the problem, please tell the FTC: ReportFraud.ftc.gov. Follow the reporting path for whatever product or service you were looking at, and choose “Other” if you don’t see the path. Just be sure to put “fake review” in the comments field.
It is your choice whether to submit a comment. If you do, you must create a user name, or we will not post your comment. The Federal Trade Commission Act authorizes this information collection for purposes of managing online comments. Comments and user names are part of the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) public records system, and user names also are part of the FTC’s computer user records system. We may routinely use these records as described in the FTC’s Privacy Act system notices. For more information on how the FTC handles information that we collect, please read our privacy policy.
The purpose of this blog and its comments section is to inform readers about Federal Trade Commission activity, and share information to help them avoid, report, and recover from fraud, scams, and bad business practices. Your thoughts, ideas, and concerns are welcome, and we encourage comments. But keep in mind, this is a moderated blog. We review all comments before they are posted, and we won’t post comments that don’t comply with our commenting policy. We expect commenters to treat each other and the blog writers with respect.
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Amazon is King for the fake reviews. They are all usually 5-8 words long, and positive.
In reply to by Cim
The reviews and description say “usual fit” or “runs large, or small”. If it says usual fit, don’t buy it. Especially shoes are never the right side or fit
And what about Amazon that won’t post negative reviews of its products?
I did that with their Blink cameras, provided images from the videos, but they wouldn’t post it, just let me know it wasn’t being posted –like no one could guess why they didn’t post it.
Reviewed a dangerous product I’d purchased from them, went into detail about what made it so dangerous. They turned it down claiming it wasn’t true.
Another bad review I posted about a refrigerator that has been a lot of costly trouble for me was never acknowledged nor, of course, posted.
Not a whole lot of truth being provided by Amazon.
Do not complete surveys online, why? That is another way to obtain your information as well as click on Cookies/Privacy/Blackweb and reporting address phone numbers on credit bureaus need to be completely removed.
Need added protection.
Thank you so much for your efforts to change these harmful, immoral and unethical practices. How did we come to consider these tactics as normal and to be expected? YouTube is packed with such advertisements nutritional supplements and fake cures that are obviously lies, and the number of them seems to be multiplying exponentially; I say this as someone who has experienced the value of alternative medicine and nutrition for five decades. Evidently, a huge number of people in this country are incapable of using research, reason and logic in order to make sound decisions, or this would not be happening.
…Well, reading about reviews, I will give you my personal point of view regarding this interesting matter.
As a consumer, I learnt that when you buy (that means, no one give me something for free), and give your honest review to, let say Amazon, well, my personal experience is that before showing my review, I received the warning that according their policies, …my oppinion is…not the one they want to hear…so, more likely the same as others…
For many Youtubers, those not sponsored, the ones who buy their gear, I watch the unboxing to see and observe how the tool, or anything else behaves, reliability and what they give through the price, warranty, accessibility to service, or availability to parts, who sells the extended warranty or service contract, etc, etc…
Also helps if the one who buy, have technological background, in my case, I do, for many years, and even retired, I use to keep myself as a eternal student always learning…
But, the most important is before buying, learn through every available serious source with care to take the final decision…
Thanks for this important information. This is something consumers really need to know.
Beautiful on the comments and is true that Amazon won’t post negative comments because it happen to me when I post and item that the description was not right but I receive a message they wrote that they will not going to posted.
In reply to by EGforce
I ran into this same situation more than once. Amazon would not post my review since I mentioned the product or suppliers name. Their reviews are just the positive ones. I just cancelled by Amazon card. They cancelled the card, but advised me “I could not apply again once I cancelled. I guess I was supposed to care.!!!!
Separating the fake reviews from honest ones is going to be pretty tricky. Many people are lacking in writing skills and will just write a few words if they are happy with their product — even if it just came out of the box.
What is a bad indicator, IMHO, is when the one star and two star percentages get too high — assuming that there are enough reviews to make this meaningful.
No, online reviews cannot be trusted nowadays. There are few independent reviewers unless someone that has purchased a product, but the latter is individual/personal user based, not reviewed vs other similar products.
Sadly, most reviews are done by the distributor of products that are only geared to sell more of their product.
We no longer have Consumer Reports that tested products vs similar products as no one wants to pay the price for that and they may have become tainted by manufacturers. I believe we used to have an organization, Underwriters Laboratory, a non profit that safety tested appliances.
With that being said, as a country we have more non profits of little use and not enough that protect consumers!
In reply to by Brian Lewis
Well said!
Google and Yelp reviews are useless, because merchants there are allowed to remove unfavorable reviews.
A lot of company’s pay for reviews. Literally they are sending by mail or with the boughted items gift cards in exchange for reviews
Being scammed is not fun. I am grateful for FCC even though I am Canadian.
I had two reviews written by Amazon for me. One said my six year old loved the product. I ever had kids and I am 70 years old. The other said that the product was great because I don’t cook and it made cooking so easy. I do all the cooking in the house
The question of online reviews is a difficult one. I understand why people think it’s not fair for a merchant to be able to remove a bad review, but sometimes that reviewer has a personal reason for posting that review, i.e., a disgruntled employee, troll, or competitor. That can make a bad review unreliable, too. My strategy is to read more than just a few reviews, filter by “most recent, and look for very similar words or phrases that are repeated often. Finally, I go old-school and take my chances!
I always start with the 1 STAR reviews. Using a little common sense , You can tell it the dislike is Product related or just some one blowing off steam and has no clue. Because they don’t know the product, it’s use or care. Read the instructions.
Generally when I look at reviews if I see a lot of detail in the positive reviews I figure it’s a fake. Most people put in brief positive reviews like “Great product” or other brief, positive statements. I tend to look at the negative reviews and look to see if there is a consistency in what the people didn’t like about the product. If I see something in several reviews like “came damaged and company was not helpful” or “worked for a short time and then broke or stopped working”, I avoid the product. This tact has served me well.
In God we trust and our luck
Amazon not only allows counterfeit products to be sold, they flag the counterfeits with “Best” or “highest reviewed.” Amazon allows these fake products to carry exact copies of brand name logos. Rarely do I purchase anything without reading specs and comparing product logos with the name brand and looking at all pictured. (Sometimes you can spot the subtle change in logo. Recently I went to Amazon for a difficult to find thermos. Checked out everything posted about it on Amazon. Wasn’t until I received thermos, weight didn’t feel right. Checked bottom of mug. Sure enough. Stamped with name of unknown company. When I wrote review, I got message back saying they would not post it. How can Amazon continue to get away with blatant fraud. Can’t any Government agency stop them? Or do they simply make so much money that they do not need to be concerned about what is or isn’t legal
Great, I do look at reviews on many products, before I even think to buy a product or review their customer services. Once I see a number of comment reviews that pretty much say the same thing it’s a fake review and I am very much aware of many companies putting fake reviews, I do check BBB as well. Glad to see FTC doing something about fake reviews, people just have to be smarter these days sadly far too many believe everything they see on the internet as the truth when in fake it is not, people just have to be more consumer. aware.
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