3 Tips for Spotting Fake Product Reviews – From Someone Who Wrote Them

What's Hot


How a Mexican Tariff Will Boost the Cost of 6 Common PurchasesFamily

Report: Walmart to Begin Selling CarsCars

How to Protect Yourself From the ‘Can You Hear Me?’ Phone ScamFamily

Trump Scraps FHA Rate Cut — What Does It Mean for You?Borrow

This Free Software Brings Old Laptops Back to LifeMore

10 Overlooked Expenses That Ruin Your BudgetFamily

Protecting Trump Will Cost Taxpayers $35 MillionFamily

8 Creative Ways to Clear ClutterAround The House

8 Tuition-Free U.S. CollegesCollege

Study: People Who Curse Are More HonestFamily

Tax Hacks 2017: Don’t Miss These 16 Often-Overlooked Tax BreaksTaxes

The 3 Golden Rules of Lending to Friends and FamilyBorrow

Porta-Potties for Presidential Inauguration Cause a StinkFamily

12 Surprising Ways to Wreck Your Credit ScoreBorrow

These Are the 25 Best Jobs in the U.S.Jobs & Work

Before you buy something online, do you check the user reviews to make sure you're getting the best product for your money? Then you should be aware many might not be legit. Here are a few tricks that will help you separate real reviews from fake.

PR and advertising agencies go to great lengths to convince you to buy the products they represent.  They use ads on television and radio.  They use the information you provide to social networks to find you online.  And many employ tactics way sneakier than mere ads. That’s where I came in: I was once a professional review writer.

PR firms know that customers use reviews as a shopping tool, and some hire freelance writers to produce favorable reviews for a fee, boosting the overall appearance of satisfaction with the products they represent. My niche was book reviews. PR firms would hire me to post five-star reviews on high-profile sites like Amazon and Barnes & Noble in order to create a buzz.  While they didn’t require me to write lies or tell me exactly what to write, if the review wasn’t five star, they didn’t pay the typical $10- 20 fee.

So, how can you spot the fakes and avoid being taken in?  Here are a couple of tips:

  1. Avoid reviews that are overly general or “salesy.” When I wrote reviews for books, I often relied on the hooks publishers included on the book jackets and to the product overview sections of online book stores. The reason was because they provided just enough information for me to write a coherent review and they contained tons of action words designed to motivate customers to buy the book and read more. By using the same verbiage, my reviews served to reinforce that same message. Steer clear of user reviews that read like a sales ad.
  2. Be cautious of too many five-star reviews. No product is going to please all of the people all of the time. When I was hired to write reviews, I was rarely alone in my endeavors. In most cases there were 10 to 20 reviewers or more assigned to the same book. Each of us was tasked with writing and posting a five-star review in order to create the appearance of having many satisfied customers. Having too many five-star reviews is a surefire clue that something is amiss.
  3. Look at the date/time stamps on the reviews. When I was paid to produce a review, I was usually given a deadline of 48 hours for completion. The same held true for the other reviewers assigned to the same project. This meant that a new book would have anywhere from 10 to 50 or more reviews posted within a 48-hour period. If you find a bunch of reviews posted around the same date/time, be wary.

User reviews are a valuable tool that you can use to gauge whether a product will work for you. The main thing to remember when reading them is to trust your instinct. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is, no matter what the reviews say.

This isn’t the first time we’ve warned about fake reviews: See our story 11 Tips to Spot Fake Reviews.

Stacy Johnson

It's not the usual blah, blah, blah

I know... every site you visit wants you to subscribe to their newsletter. But our news and advice is actually worth reading! For 25 years, I've been making people richer without making their eyes glaze over. You'll be glad you did. I guarantee it!

💰🗣📰

Read Next: 6 Presidents Day Sales You Should Know About

Check Out Our Hottest Deals!

We're always adding new deals and coupons that'll save you big bucks. See the deals to the right and hundreds more in our Deals section.

Click here to explore 1,844 more deals!