How Can You Spot a Fake Review?

By | December 28, 2013


Learn to Spot Fake Reviews

By User: Gmaxwell (original) User: David Levy (derivative) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 Reviews are a valuable source of direct consumer experience about a product or service on the market. Consumer reviews can alert you to pitfalls or advantages which you haven’t been aware of. That’s why their popularity has been growing fast over recent years.

However, while reviews are important, there are a high number of fake reviews on the market. You can find details about this issue in our previous post The Sad Reality of Online Consumer Reviews. Given the false information, making a buying decision based on consumer reviews must be done carefully. Here are useful tips to help you spot a fake review, beginning with determining what platform the review is seen on.

Is the Review Generated Against a Purchase or Not?

First you should know details about the platform that you are looking at. For instance, how has the review been generated? If it is a shopping platform where consumers can leave reviews only after they have purchased the goods or services, then there is much higher chance that what you read is real, as opposed to a platform where anybody can sign in to write a review.

At platforms that specialize in online reviews, it is likely easier to spot the online marketing companies that are producing fake reviews for multiple clients. With that being said, it is difficult to say that all purely-review platforms must  have fake reviews. No, we are not saying that! Generalizations cannot be made. Instead, we are saying that platforms dedicated solely to providing consumer reviews have to fight with the issue of receiving fake submissions. With this issue in mind, the US site Yelp has begun a system that somehow restricts the rate of fake reviews; other platforms might soon install similar techniques. However, even then, you still have to be careful of believing that everything you read is true.

Is the Review Well Written?

A review that is not well written may be fake

plugimi, CC BY-ND 2.0, via Flickr

Another way to spot a fake review is by examining how well it is written. If it is written in poorly-worded English, many times that means it was produced by an online marketing company in Asia.

In addition, look at the length of the review. From our experience in online marketing, we have seen several lengthy top-rated reviews that are actually fake. If you read a review that tells a long story about the consumer’s satisfaction with the product or service, this is often a phony endorsement. In reality, a happy customer is usually too busy to write a long story about his or her satisfaction levels.

On the other hand, it is rare to see negative reviews just stating “something is crap” in three words. That is probably not a real review because an unhappy customer would likely dedicate more time to expressing the problem and want to share that information with others. Compare that with a happy client who is just posting a few words.

Is the Exact Product or Service Mentioned?

Another thing to ask yourself is whether there is mention of the exact product or services  purchased from the company. Real reviews many times do mention this important detail, or the review platform mentions it automatically. If you can’t see the name of the product and service, then there is a good chance that the review is not real.

Do You See a Mix of Different Ratings?

Even the highly reputable companies don’t have all positive reviews. As we are human, mistakes do happen. It could be the wrong order sent out, late delivery, or a problem with an online order caused by a server glitch. Let’s face it – it happens.

Given this reasoning, company profiles with 100% ratings or 5 out of 5 stars, time and time again, are not realistic. We definitely don’t want to harm those great companies who care about clients and have happy purchasers, but from time to time even a satisfied client will give a business 4 stars instead of 5. That being said, read carefully the reviews of those companies that have 50 perfect 100% reviews in a row.

Are there different star ratings?

By Marivas695, CC-BY-SA-3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Other Details to Look Out For

As you analyze the reviews, keep in mind that not only positive reviews are fake. Yes, there are companies who constantly write negative reviews against their direct competitors, as well. Be aware that false information could be used to create a bad review just as easily as a glowing endorsement.

In addition, see if the consumer’s name and/or level of profile is displayed on the platform. Use your common sense regarding this tip; a user who signed up for the website the same day that he or she wrote a lengthy, positive review may be suspicious.

Lastly, seek platforms when the sellers can reply about their consumer reviews. This type of platform has transparency, whereas closed communication encourages posting of fake details.

To look up consumer reviews on a trustworthy platform, check out It is a genuine platform that generates reviews from real customers and ranks reviews collected from other sites according to reliability. Stay tuned for more posts to come soon, here at our official CheckTick blog!