When looking for companies that are ethical and reputable, most people are looking at online reviews.
True to form, many of the UNethical companies are looking for ways to trick people into believing they’re on the level — when they’re not.
Here are some of the best tricks and tips from online sources you can follow to stay apprised of this situation.
Consumer Reports’ Samantha Gordon advises:
1. Note the time stamps of the reviews. If you notice a cluster of very positive reviews all posted on the same day, “something fishy might be going on,” Gordon says. Fake reviews can be grouped together like this, so it’s probably best to skip over them.
2. Be wary of identical phrasing in multiple reviews. This could be another indication that the reviews aren’t real. For example, if you see multiple reviews from different users but they all use the phrase “Wow, this product changed my life!” they may not be genuine.
3. Look for Verified Purchase badges on Amazon. Any user on Amazon is allowed to leave a review of a product, even if they didn’t buy it on Amazon. The Verified Purchase tag on a review signals that Amazon confirmed that the reviewer paid for the product and bought it through Amazon. You can also filter the reviews to see only those that are a verified purchase.
4. Click on the reviewer for their history. If you’re interested in a specific review, it may help to look more closely at the user who wrote it. Clicking on their profile should let you see other items they reviewed, which can give you more clues as to whether that reviewer is legitimate. If a reviewer always gives five stars and uses similar language for different reviews, those may be fake or paid for.
5. If you’re still unsure, use Fakespot. This website uses an algorithm to evaluate the quality of customer reviews for products being sold at major retailers, including Amazon, Best Buy, Walmart, and more. Just copy a product URL into Fakespot’s “analyzer.” It will tell you the percentage of reviews for the product that are likely to be genuine.
Editor’s Note: This article also appeared in the August 2023 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.