How to spot fake Amazon reviews using online tools and other methods

It’s important to know how to spot fake Amazon reviews so you don’t end up with a disappointing product. Ttatty/Shutterstock
  • You can spot fake Amazon reviews using a few different methods and tools that help you spot the signs of a fake review.
  • Amazon does allow people to receive free products in exchange for a review, as long as this exchange is clearly noted in the text posted.
  • Generally, you should watch out for reviews in particular that are either overly positive or overly negative without offering any details.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

If you’re like pretty much everyone on earth, you use Amazon to make multiple purchases a year, and if you’re like many people, you rely on the online retail giant to make most of your purchases.

Either way, that means you often depend on the Amazon reviews and ratings to give you the confidence to buy or pass on an item.

The problem? According to PCMag Associate Editor Jason Cohen, Amazon is cluttered with fake reviews.

Knowing how to spot them is critical for knowing when to click that Buy Now button and when to keep searching.

“Amazon’s Verified Purchase label is meant to alleviate concerns over fake reviews,” Cohen said, “but it doesn’t go far enough. Instead, use third-party tools to strip out fake reviews and get more reliable ratings.”

How to spot fake Amazon reviews

Always look for a smattering of moderately positive reviews on a product, those with three or four stars and some good points or two stars with legitimate grievances.

In one-star reviews, make sure the person’s issue was with the product itself, not with customer service or for some other reason particular to their lives but not the fault of the item.

How to spot fake Amazon reviews
Note reviews that have critiques woven into their positive feedback; these are the most trustworthy. Isabella Paoletto/Business Insider

And then of course you can also (and should also) cross-reference the product beyond Amazon itself, reading customer reviews on other sites as well as expert coverage of the product when possible.

Here are the common red flags of a fake or at best disingenuous Amazon reviews – catch enough of them, and you should doubt the product’s quality and likely move on.

  • Low number of reviews, especially compared to similar products
  • All or most reviews are quite recent
  • All or most reviews state they were in exchange for a free product sample (Vine Customer Review, e.g.)
  • Multiple five-star or one-star reviews accompanied by brief text.

If you see a review you suspect is fake, don’t just sit there grinding your teeth at your screen. Cohen reminds us that “if you come across a review you believe is fake, you can report it to [Amazon] and mark it for investigation and possible removal.”

Third-party sites can also be used to spot fake reviews. These sites use algorithms to analyse language and reviewer purchase history to determine which reviews are most likely to be fake.

“Always use third-party tools to strip out fake reviews and get more reliable ratings,” Cohen said. “[Sites] like Fakespot and ReviewMeta use algorithms to analyse language and reviewer purchase history to determine which reviews are most likely to be fake. Depending how the tool works, it may either grade the reliability of the product page, or remove the fake reviews from the aggregate in order to reassess the product’s rating. Many of these tools offer a browser extension to improve ease-of-use.”

All you need to do is copy and paste the products URL into one of the site’s task bars and you’ll get a report on potential credibility or lack thereof.

How to spot fake Amazon reviews
Reporting fake reviews can help other shoppers later and, with enough offences, can be suspended from the site. Isabella Paoletto/Business Insider

These reports are assembled by computers and are far from infallible, but they can help you decide if more research is needed or if it’s time to buy.

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