Skip to Content
© Prykhodov | Dreamstime.com
Safety & security

Online shopping tip: How to spot fake reviews

We live in an era of online shopping. During the COVID-19 quarantine, we are especially reliant on online services for convenience and safety. According to Statista, there will be over 230 million online shoppers in the U.S. in 2021.

One of the most popular online retailers is, of course, Amazon. It’s truly become like the behemoth jungle of its namesake. Amazon is by far the biggest e-commerce retailer commanding almost 40% of online market share. Tap or click here to find out how to get the most value out of your Amazon account.

Though online shopping has many benefits, including ease of ordering, competitive pricing, and unmatched variety, there is a downside. Unlike a brick and mortar retailer, you don’t get to experience a product firsthand before purchasing. As a result, shoppers often rely on reviews written by previous buyers to decide whether or not to make a purchase.

Evaluating the product reviews on Amazon is certainly a good idea to do before committing to spending your hard-earned money on an item you have not been able to see in person. But how do you know that all of those reviews are actually written by real shoppers you can trust?

Unfortunately, you can’t. Amazon sales are big business, and many of the product reviews were written by people hired to write those reviews by independent sellers or their competitors. So how can you tell what is fake and what is real?

Analyzing Amazon reviews

Your first line of defense is using common sense when reading reviews for a given product. Analyzing the patterns of reviews can give you clues as to whether a testimonial is genuine or not. Tap or click to see why fake Amazon reviews are so common.

For example, if there have been many reviews submitted in a short period of time, those write-ups may be part of a retailer’s campaign to improve product reviews with false ratings. Fifty five-star ratings in the past half hour? Probably not the real deal.

Look at the content of the review. If there are a number of similar reviews with short comments those may be fake. Any reviews that seem like they were dashed off quickly may be phony, especially if there is a spate of them. Also, keep an eye out for spelling or grammar errors that indicate the reviewer was not paying close attention to exactly what they were saying.

If a review seems overly positive or extremely negative you may want to take this as a red flag as well. Most well-meaning consumers posting reviews want to help other shoppers to be as informed as possible, not to heap praise on a seller or try to vilify them unnecessarily.

Finally, take a look at what exactly is being said about a given item or transaction. Does the review focus on the product and its features and whether it meets the expectations set by the seller? Or does the review go off the rails with insults or compliments without any real information? These kinds of write-ups can indicate fake reviews too.

Even keeping these tips in mind it can be hard to spot which reviews are fake and which are real. Fortunately, there are a few services that can help to sniff out the imposter feedback. Two such services are Fakespot and ReviewMeta which we’ll detail next.

Fakespot

Fakespot is one of the leading free Amazon review checking services. It is easy to download, run and install either on your PC or mobile device. You can download the app for free from the Apple Store or Google Play Store. Fakespot is also a plugin that runs on Chromium browsers such as Chrome, Edge, or Opera.

To download to your computer:

  1. Go to Fakespot.com
  2. Click the button Add To Chrome
  3. If you do not have Chrome or Edge as your browser, you will be prompted to download
  4. Install and run
  5. Choose your settings
  6. Shop Amazon as usual

Fakespot began as an Amazon-only extension, but now can be used with other online retailers as well. In addition to helping you vet reviews, Fakespot can also help you to find the best prices on products as well.

Fakespot.com

ReviewMeta

ReviewMeta works as a browser extension or as a stand alone site.

To use for single product reviews, simply to go to ReviewMeta.com. Once there, you can copy and paste the Amazon product page URL you wish to analyze. Within a few minutes, the site will generate a report for that product including sorting out potentially fake reviews and updating the product rating to reflect findings.

ReviewMeta search field for Amazon products

To use as an extension on your browser:

  1. Go to the ReviewMeta.com homepage
  2. From the toolbar select Browser Extensions and click
  3. Choose your browser and click to install
  4. Follow prompts guiding you through installation
  5. Go to Amazon.com
  6. To use ReviewMeta click the icon on the upper right-hand corner of the Amazon page

Whether you choose to use a review checking service or not, it’s always a good idea to read Amazon product reviews carefully and with the understanding that some may not be what they seem. And remember, no matter what or where you are purchasing, caveat emptor – especially online!

Komando Community background

Join the Komando Community!

Get even more digital know-how and entertainment within the Komando Community! Watch or listen to The Kim Komando Show on your schedule, read Kim's eBooks for free, and get answers in the Tech Forum.

Join Now