+ Add Chrome Extension

Back to Blog Home

Don't Be Fooled By Fake Online Reviews - Here's How to Catch Them

linsaythomas profile picture
Linsay ThomasGuest Blogger
August 18, 2016 · 5.3k Views

Source: File Hippo

If you’re on the fence about trying a new product or restaurant, you can just check the reviews, right? Not necessarily. Fake online reviews are on the rise, as some product manufacturers or business owners pay others to write glowing reviews to promote their business or product. It can be frustrating if you’re just a typical consumer wanting to find out if you should buy that new product everyone is talking about, or pass. Even Amazon has filed a lawsuit cracking down on these fake reviews.

So how can you tell these fakes from the real deal? It involves some analysis on your part, but by following the guidelines below, you can sort out the BS from the real reviews from people who have actually tried the product.

Subscribe to our emails for Amazon, eBay, Macy's, Kohl's, Old Navy, and Best Buy to get the best deals for all your shopping endeavors, both online and in store.


Source: Eat Out Magazine

 They go to extremes. Fake reviews tend to use overly positive or negative reviews to    get their point across. So if they use adjectives like best or worst, it’s likely not a true review.

 They’re vague. If you’re reading a hotel review and it tells you nothing about the hotel, then it’s probably fake. Reviewers who have never even visited the hotel will explain why they went to the hotel (vacation, business trip, etc.), but they don’t go into detail and describe any of the amenities. That’s because they’ve never been there.

 They lack details. Along the same line, pay attention to reviews that mention specific details. A real reviewer will often mention why they liked or disliked a product (“The battery lasted two full days,” “The cheese was moldy and tasted old.”) rather than give general praise or complaints (“I didn’t like this product,” “These jeans are great!”) 

 See who’s writing the review. In some cases, you can find out who the review is coming from and see what other products they review. If they only review products sold by one company, then it’s a strong possibility that they work for that company and make money writing fake reviews. On some sites, like Amazon, the company will only allow reviews from consumers who have actually purchased the product.

 Look for jargon and technical language. Fake reviewers know nothing about the product they’re reviewing, so they quote from the product manual. If you notice that the review keeps mentioning the full product name, that’s usually a marketing tactic to promote the product in search engine results. Look for jargon because most people don’t normally speak like that.

 Look for copycat reviews. Are you looking at several products on one site and see the same reviews over and over? That’s probably because one person wrote one review and posted it on multiple products. Everyone writes differently and has a different opinion, so each review should be unique. If the same one keeps popping up, it’s fake.

 Avoid all caps. ARE THE REVIEWS WRITTEN LIKE THIS? Reviews written in all caps are spammy, In fact, anybody who writes in all uppercase letters should be punished. If a review not only sounds annoying but looks annoying as well, it’s probably written by a fraud.

 Investigate ratings that seem out of the ordinary. If a product is getting almost all four- and five-star reviews, and then there are a couple one-star reviews, check them out. Sometimes there’s a valid reason why a seemingly great product is receiving such a bad review, but if the only reviews are short and vague (“I didn’t like it,” “It sucked.”), then disregard them. This works both ways, so if you see a product with tons of negative reviews, and just a couple glowing reviews without any substance (“Awesome!” “Would definitely buy again.”), then they are likely not legit.

 They compare the products with those from competitors. If you see a page-long review comparing the product with a different brand and are given long-winded explanations as to why the product is better than the one from competitor XYZ, then it’s likely nothing but a fiction tale. Companies will do that to create buzz for their product while slamming a competitor. Most real reviews won’t slam a company unrelated to the product being reviewed.

 The review is overly promotional. They may offer a promo code and list all the places where you can buy the product.

 They contain links. A review should be an explanation of why a product is good or bad. Some people, however, use reviews as a well to self-promote. So don’t be surprised if a reviewer briefly discusses the product and then correlates it to his or her own website. Just consider these reviews to be spam.

 Look for cookie cutter phrases. Do you see a phrase in a review that looks odd? Maybe it is written or broken English or perhaps it displayed a poor use of a simile or metaphor. If it’s something that seems to stick out, do a Google search, just for fun. You’ll likely find out that the same phrase has been used in dozens – if not hundreds – of product reviews.

 Check the username. On some sites, you’re given a username and it should have no more than three numbers at the end. If you see a username that does, it’s likely an automated program leaving the reviews.

 The review is posted before the product is even released. To generate buzz for a new product, a company may start leaving fake reviews. You can often see when a review was posted, so if it appears to precede the product release, then it’s likely not trustworthy.


Marketing professionals are very crafty, so many reviews may look real. As the saying goes, don’t believe everything you read on the Internet. Should you trust that positive review? Maybe not. Embrace reviews with a high degree of skepticism. Be suspicious of overreaching claims and reviews in general. But you can still try some of the tips above and maybe learn to identify fact from fiction.


linsaythomas profile picture
Linsay Thomas is a seasoned writer and editor who has written thousands of articles about topics such as saving money, healthcare, law, pets and education. She hails from California, where she lives with her husband, two children and a menagerie of pets. When she's not writing, she enjoys sports, breeding chocolate Labs and visiting the beach.