Have you heard about astroturfing? These are online reviews that appear real, but aren’t (just like plastic grass!). In this blog post, we’re sharing some tips on how to tell if an online review is real or not because, according to the Competition Bureau, an estimated 33% of all online reviews are fake!

According to the Competition Bureau, “individuals or businesses use this tactic to improve poor reviews in order to persuade consumers to purchase a particular product or service. The truth is, those posting fake reviews have often never used the product or service they are recommending, and may be collecting a fee for posting positive feedback.”

While this is a topic that falls outside the laws we oversee, we believe in helping consumers make informed purchasing decisions. So if you tend to rely on online product reviews, here are a few tips on how to detect if a review or endorsement is fake or real:

Run the review through a “fake checker.

There are websites out there dedicated to analyzing reviews to see if they’re real or not. Some of the ones that we’ve heard of include fakespot.com and reviewmeta.com.

Review the reviewer.

Take a look at the person who left the review – do they only write reviews for certain companies, are they one-time reviewers or have they left reviews in a brief timespan (like 30 minutes)? All of these are red flags.

Check out the language.

If the wording seems weird, like the full product name or model number are repeated throughout the review, it could be an attempt at trying to increase search engine rankings (this is technical speak for trying to make some pages show up on the first page of your Google search). Be cautious if the review isn’t written like how someone would actually talk.

Trust word of mouth!

Friends and family members can be great sources of legit information. Don’t forget to go back to the basics and ask trusted loved ones for their feedback and experiences with certain products.

Know where to go for help.

If you feel like you’ve been misled by an online fake review or if you’ve been approached by a business to post fake reviews, contact the Competition Bureau’s Information Centre at 1-800-348-5358 or file a complaint on their website. If you’ve been the victim of fraud, you can contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.

Do you rely on reviews for your purchasing decisions? Add your tips in a comment below.


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