How to spot fake reviews while shopping online

Consumer Reports show the number of online shoppers is at 1.92 billion so far this year. Most of these customers are turning to online product reviews to make a final decision on whether to buy or pass, but every review can't be trusted.

In February, the Federal Trade Commission made an unprecedented move, filing a major lawsuit against a company accused of paying for fake Amazon reviews. Still, more and more companies are using fake reviews, hoping to get your business.

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If you think a review might be fake, experts say to look out for these red flags.



"Some companies will hire other companies to create fake reviews for them, trying to promote their products," said Leah Napoliello, Senior Director of Investigative Services.

That's why Saoud Khalifah created FakeSpot.com.

"I ordered a couple of products from Amazon and all of these products have hundreds of five-star ratings. I got the product in physical form and they were completely off-base. They broke down within the first week. I was incredibly disappointed so I went back and read the reviews and noticed a lot of red flags all over the place," Khalifah explained.

Khalifah says he wanted to stop this from happening to others so he created a free website that tracks fake reviews.

"You go to FakeSpot.com, paste in the product you're looking at and it'll check it," he said.

It also works on products from Yahoo! and Trip Advisor.

Khalifah and his team analyze the business or product, using their artificial intelligence system to determine if the reviews are fake or not. Khalifah says he's found the most fake Amazon reviews when it comes to electronics and gadgets.

"Phone case covers, Bluetooth headphones and other electronica paraphernalia or accessories. Usually those categories have a lot of fake reviews because it's very simple for someone to start selling their own Bluetooth headphones," said Khalifah.

How do you spot fake reviews yourself? Experts say look for these top 3 things.

  1. Language: A real review is typically specific in its praise. Be leery of formal product names, model numbers and tech and marketing jargon in the review.
  2. Reviewer:Click on the profile of the reviewer to see what else they've reviewed.
  3. Check the timing and the number of reviews. If there are multiple glowing reviews for a product or service in a brief time span, that's a big red flag.


FakeSpot says it catches most of the fakes, but you can also check a product or company at your Better Business Bureau.

"You can never be too cautious because there are many scammers that are online," said Napoliello. "It really is important to be educated and be aware that these types of issues are out there."

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