Here’s how you can sniff out fake reviews

HOUSTON – The pandemic has pushed millions of Americans to shop online. This week, just ahead of a new Black Friday with retailers discouraging long lines and crowds, online sales will likely set records.

Before you click “add to cart” or “buy now,” you should always read customer reviews to see what others are saying about the products you want. About 75% of people do this already, but don’t stop there. If you fall for a fake review, you could be stuck with a dud of an item.

Our eyes are naturally drawn to the yellow stars on Amazon products. Chandra Steele of PCMag says you have to dive deeper and really read the reviews.

Her advice:

  • Start with the bad reviews.
  • Find a second source. Get off of Amazon to check reviews of the same product on other sites. You can Google the name of the product on Google Shopping to find it.
  • Reviews with a “Verified Purchase” emblem aren’t always 100% legit. “Sometimes it’s somebody who legitimately purchased the item,” explained Steele. “And then the seller contacts them later and says ‘Could you write a review of this item; and I’ll send you a refund.’”
  • Pay more attention to review with pictures. “This way you know that this is a person, probably who has invested in this product and is really using it and wants to show something about it,” said Steele.

There are some browser extensions and websites that will scout out fake reviews for you.

Fakespot looks at both the review and the reviewer, analyzing language, previous reviews, and purchase history to determine trustworthiness. It then filters out suspicious reviews.

On The Review Index, you just paste the URL of the reviews into a bar. The site runs a spam test and assigns the overall review section a pass or a fail.

Steele says if you rely on reviews, you should leave them yourself to help others. You’ll increase the number of authentic reviews; and it’s just good karma.