Clark Howard

How to spot and avoid fake product reviews on Amazon

Fake product reviews have become a big problem on online retail sites like Amazon, according to money expert Clark Howard.

The consumer advocate points to numerous reports that indicate that the world's largest online retailer is rife with fake reviews. But how can you tell if a review is bogus?

Fake Amazon reviews: Here’s how to tell

We’ve compiled some ways for you to spot and avoid fake online reviews. But first, here’s what Clark says on the issue:

"Our consumer behavior as a buyer is so influenced by reviews that now there are people, who all they do full time is earn a living by writing fake reviews," Clark says.

Clark says that the issue of bogus reviews has become so commonplace that a cottage industry has emerged to help facilitate it.

“A lot of companies that are trying to get a product sold in the marketplace, or get you into a restaurant or get you to stay at a particular pace, they’re contracting with these organizations,” he says.

6 ways to spot fake Amazon reviews

Because it’s so hard to tell whether we’re reading an authentic review or not, here are some ways to decipher the real from the fake:

1. lets you paste the URL of a review so that it can be analyzed. While it was originally built around Amazon, the site has expanded to other retailers such as Walmart and Best Buy.

Clark says this about’s ability to sniff out a fake review: “They’re not always successful at it, but it’s a help.”

Get the FakeSpot browser plugin for Chrome and Mozilla as well as the app for Android and iOS.

2. ReviewMeta

Like FakeSpot, ReviewMeta lets you copy and paste the review link to view its credibility. The premise behind the site is not so much to decipher fake reviews, but to help shoppers uncover bias in reviews, which can be just as damaging to consumers.

ReviewMeta has a “Pass,” Fail” or “Warn” system that it uses to gauge reviews. Here’s what the site says about that:

“PASS/FAIL/WARN does NOT indicate presence or absence of ‘fake’ reviews.”

Get the ReviewMeta browser extension as well as the app for Android and iOS.

3. Watch for typos and bad grammar

Another way you can spot a fake online review is to look out for typos and bad grammar.

It’s not that every reviewer has perfect typing skills or a high education level, it’s just that online reviews are littered with sentences that seem to come straight out of a translation website. Those reviews could be fake!

4. Beware overly positive reviews

If a product review is superb in every way and the accolades seem too good to be true, a lot of times they are. This overly positive review is often accompanied with a perfect rating that may seem impossible to achieve.

5. Be suspicious of the bland and general

Some reviews are so general that you can’t even tell what the product does or is from the way it’s written. This could be a telltale sign that the review is artificially generated.

6. Look at the reviewer

Another good way to sniff out a fake review is to spot a fake reviewer. Click on the reviewer’s profile to see if they’ve written any other reviews or if they’re simply copying and pasting the same reviews on different products.

Also, if you’re considering a purchase from a reseller in a marketplace site like Amazon or eBay, make sure you only buy from vendors with a 98% or higher seller rating.

Bottom line

As a thoughtful consumer, it’s ultimately up to you to scrutinize reviews before you buy a product or service. Here’s what Clark says:

"You and I have to understand that whether you're looking at a place to eat, a place to sleep, a place to shop, or an item to shop for, that the odds are very strong if not overwhelming that the reviews that are being posted are bogus and you and I have to be the cops on the beat."

If you run across a fake review online, file a consumer complaint online with the Federal Trade Commission or call the agency at 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357).

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