How to Spot a Fake Review on Amazon, Google, Walmart, etc.

Many of us read online reviews to help us determine the quality of a product or business. However, not all reviews are honest. Many reviews are intentionally left to sway the customer into buying a product / doing business with a particular company. Other reviews are maliciously left to damage a product’s or business’ reputation. Either way, not good.

Here is a short list of things to watch out for if you are reading an online review of a product or business. Later, I may add to this list if I have the time.

Please note that nothing is fool-proof, and that you may end up believing a review is fake when it is not or vice versa.

  1. Does the reviewer have a history of reviewing other products or businesses? – Does the reviewer’s account have a few other reviews listed, or only 1 or 2. Many times fake reviewers create new accounts for the sole purpose of posting a couple (or so) fake reviews for a particular product or business.
  2. Does the reviewer have reviews “here and there”, or does the reviewer’s account have tons of reviews in a short span of time? – One thing to watch out for is a reviewer with tons of reviews all in a span of weeks. Sometimes the reviewer may review 5-10 products, wait a couple of months, and do another 5-10 products. These people usually have several accounts, and they switch between them when writing reviews. This is obviously done for money and not for the benefit of the customer reading the reviews.
  3. How detailed is the review? – Does the reviewer give specific details in his review, or do they just give generalities like “Good product!” or “Was shipped fast!” or “Beware! Business ripped me off. Went somewhere else.”? Anytime a reviewer does not bother to give details, I would skip that review. A lot of fake reviewers are interested in how many fake reviews they churn out, not about the quality of said fake reviews.
  4. Does the reviewer have a history of all “5-star” reviews? – Even if a reviewer has many reviews spaced out over time (usually a good sign), if most of their reviews are “1-star” or “5-star” reviews, this can be a sign that something is not right. If virtually all the reviews are “5-star” ones, this can be a paid reviewer, or someone who just sees the good in everything (not a bad personality trait, by the way). This can throw off their review, since they may skip over all the “bad” and just mention the good, which does you nor anyone else any good.
  5. Does the reviewer have a history of all “1-star” reviews? – If virtually all the reviews are “1-star” ones, this can also be a paid reviewer, or someone who just sees the bad in everything. This too can throw off their review, since they may skip over all the “good” and just mention the bad, which does you nor anyone else any good either.
  6. Is the reviewer the one who purchased the item or service, or are they writing a review for their “friend”? – Any review that claims to be writing for someone else is automatically suspect in my book. While not all these reviews are fake, I personally stay away from those.
  7. (For a negative review) Has the business replied to the reviewer? – It is always a good idea to read a business’ response to a negative review. If the business has replied with good points about how the review is a fake, you may want to reconsider believing the negative review. Check to see if the business gives details about how the reviewer is lying. Also, check to see if the reviewer ever replies to the business’ response. This back and forth between a business and customer can be helpful in determining who is lying and who is telling the truth.
  8. Did the reviewer even write a review, or did he just leave only a rating? – This is when someone leaves a “1-star”, “3-star”, “5-star”, etc. rating without leaving an actual review. I usually overlook these kinds of reviews, since they really are not reviews to begin with. If someone leaves a “1-star” review with a business without writing anything, my question would obviously be: “Why was your experience a ‘1-star’?”. Ratings with no explanation do nothing to help anyone, since there is no context given. You are just left to guess. These kinds of reviews are frequently seen when searching businesses on Google Maps.
  9. Has the reviewer used the product before? – This one is kind of funny. Some reviewers claim – with a “5-star” rating – that the product “looks good” or “shipped fast” …but they suddenly claim that they have not actually used the product and are “not sure if it works or not”. These reviews – while phony – are still funny.

Here is a real-life example (for #6):

I once saw a local business have someone leave a bad 1-star review, claiming they were overcharging in their estimate and that they were able to get their vehicle repaired at another shop for a lot less cash.

Well, I read the business owner’s reply. He explained in detail how the reviewer was misleading everyone, and how there was virtually no way they could have gotten their vehicle repaired for the amount the reviewer claimed. He also asked the reviewer to provide proof of their claims, since their review was basically slandering his business and himself as well.

The reviewer never replied with anything to prove what they said was true. I suspect the reviewer was intentionally lying, since their review was somewhat vague and they obviously did not want to provide proof. Why not, if you are telling the truth?


Posted in General, Shopping, Society