What to look for when identifying fake reviews when online shopping

ByABC7.com staff KABC logo
Saturday, July 22, 2023
How to identify fake reviews on online shopping sites
Online shoppers rely on reviews to know how good a product is, and there are tools that can be used to help determine if the reviews are legitimate.

LOS ANGELES -- When shopping online, many of us read reviews to know how good a product is before we decide to purchase it.

"When I buy something, I want to make sure it's not going to break or that it's going to be worth my time that's going to last," says Mary Beth Quirk of Consumer Reports.

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

Quirk acknowledges it can be hard to know for sure whether these reviews are legitimate or not, but there are some tell-tale signs of fake reviews to look out for.

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

"If you see that 17 times on a page, that product better really be life-changing," Quirk stated. "But it's probably not. It's probably more likely that it's a bunch of fake reviews or somebody who's paid to do reviews and isn't really being honest about them and is just kind of churning them out."

Additionally, Quirk recommends taking a look at time stamps. Several positive reviews in a short time might be a sign of inauthenticity: "There was one time I realized that one day I looked at it and there was a normal amount of reviews," she commented. "The next day I went back and there were like 20 to 50 new reviews and I saw they had all been posted the same time after I had looked at the page."

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

When shopping at Amazon, it is important to check for verified purchase badges.

"Basically, anybody who's using Amazon could go on there and leave a review for something, even if they haven't bought it," Quirk said. "So with the verified purchase badges, it's Amazon on its end has confirmed that somebody purchased that product through their site."

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

"If you see one reviewer uses that same phrase on 30 different products, take that with a grain of salt," Quirk said.

In the end, Quirk says to trust your gut: "If somebody's being really over the top, if the reviews are just totally wild and, you know, it turns out to be like a stapler, like how life-changing is that stapler? So if it's too good to be true, it probably is."