5 Telltale Signs of a Fake Review: How to Spot Them and Why It Matters

Written by: Tone Loberg
Posted on: November 1, 2021
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Online retail has given rise to the power of user reviews, but it has also given birth to a darker side: fake reviews. Some online stores even go as far as having their employees write these counterfeit testimonials. So how can you, as a consumer, separate genuine reviews from the fabricated ones? Here are five telltale signs to look out for.

1. The ‘Verified Buyer’ Badge: A Trust Marker

The first place to start when evaluating the authenticity of a review is the ‘Verified Buyer’ badge. This badge indicates that the person has actually purchased the product from the website and was prompted to leave a review through an email invitation.

Although the absence of this badge doesn’t automatically label a review as fake, it does raise questions. Many platforms allow users to leave reviews without this badge but require them to log in through a social media account. While these users may not be verified buyers, they are still accountable for their comments, increasing the review’s credibility. However, take such reviews with a grain of caution.

2. Timing: Sporadic Five-Star Reviews Should Raise Eyebrows

Always check the posting dates of reviews. Do you notice a sudden influx of glowing five-star reviews followed by periods of silence? This could be a red flag.

However, a sudden burst of reviews isn’t always a sign of foul play. Some retailers send out bulk requests for reviews to past or in-store customers, leading to a temporary spike. In such cases, observe the diversity in ratings and content of the reviews.

3. Anonymity and Nicknames: A Double-Edged Sword

Be wary of reviews that use nicknames or incomplete names. While these could be genuine reviews from people protecting their privacy due to GDPR, they could also be fake. If you notice that most reviews feature full names and only a few are anonymous or have first-name-only entries, those could be exceptions rather than the norm.

4. Inconsistent Ratings Across Platforms: A Cause for Concern

Does a webshop boast a perfect 5/5 rating on its own site, but only a 3.6/5 on Facebook and a 3.3/5 on Google Reviews? That’s a red flag. Some online stores cherry-pick the reviews they display, showing only positive feedback. To cross-verify, check reviews across multiple platforms. Reputable stores, according to Lipscore’s analysis, usually have an average rating between 4.2 and 4.5.

5. Language: Beware of Salesy Scripts

Reviews that read like a slick sales script should ring alarm bells. Real people have varying writing styles, sentence structures, and even make grammatical errors. Watch out for reviews that are overly polished and bear an unnatural language flow. Also, consider the length; most people won’t write an essay unless they have extreme feelings about the product or service.

Conclusion: Spotting Fake Reviews Requires Diligence

Identifying a fake review isn’t easy, but by conducting a quick authenticity check based on these five steps, you should be able to form a reliable impression of the online store you’re considering. Trust your instincts and do your due diligence to ensure that you’re making informed purchasing decisions.

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