How to Spot Fake Reviews Before Making a Purchase

CROMWELL, Conn. (WTNH) — Whether you’re buying a bike, a book or a bite to eat, chances are, you’ll read a review before making a purchase. But some of those reviews might not be as honest as you think.

“It’s very difficult to get a number on how many or what percentage of reviews are fake,” said Howard Schwartz, the executive communications director at the Connecticut Better Business Bureau. “What we do know is there are a couple of red flags to tell you if you’re dealing with phony reviews.”

Red flag number one is marketing speak.

“Marketing speak involves the use of words that you and I would never use when describing something, so for example, if somebody writes a review where they say the XG 42 model widget is great, and then they repeat the name of that model number several times in the review, you can be sure that it’s not put there by a legitimate consumer,” Schwartz explained.

If it sounds like someone is trying to sell you a product, they probably are. Red flag number two: Too many details, such as in a review for a restaurant.

“So many of them start the same way,” Schwartz said. “’I’ve passed by this place dozens of times and never went in, but I did this time, and George greeted me at the door, Susan served me,’ and they will just name lots of names of different people who work there. Yes it’s possible it was written by a consumer, but the amount of details that are put in there, again if it sounds like selling, it probably is.”

Red flag number three is overblown claims about a product.

“Overblown claims are things like, ‘These new sponges changed my life,’ or, ‘This vacuum cleaner is what I’ve been looking for and will now improve my life 100 percent,” Schwartz explained. “It’s just silly. I don’t know many people uh who can claim their vacuum cleaner actually did change their life and if there was such a thing available you can bet a lot of people would buy it.”

Red flag number four is the reviewer’s username.

“When you see the name of a reviewer, and it ends in two or three numbers, that’s an indication that the review was written by a robo writer,” Schwartz said. “It’s essentially a computer that goes around, or is hired by different sites and it generates reviews.”

In an effort to combat fake reviews, Amazon offers “verified purchase reviews.” That means the company has checked to make sure the person commenting on the product actually bought it at amazon and didn’t receive it at a deep discount.

Consumers can also use Fakespot.com to see how a product’s reviews stack up. Just plug in the link for an amazon item or yelp place and Fakespot will give the reviews a grade from A to F.

Howard also says, be sure to do your homework.

“It’s a mistake to look only at the reviews on the site where the product or service is being sold,” Schwartz said. “Google it, check with Better Business Bureau, and find out what other people think about it.”

A few simple tips to make your next purchase a smart one.

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