Reading online reviews for services and products are an extremely convenient way to decide what and where to buy, but consumers need to consider whether the reviews are actually genuine before believing them. Our partners with Troubleshooters at WPVI in Philadelphia report on a growing trend of bogus reviews, which can either help or hurt businesses unfairly.  One thing to consider with reviews is the location of the alleged consumer.  In one case Troubleshooters investigated, a pressure washing business in New Jersey received numerous one-star reviews on Facebook originating from France, Bangladesh, and India — Foreign countries where the small business couldn’t possibly have done business.  Within a few days of a flood of negative reviews, the business was noticeably suffering.  Troubleshooters reached out to Facebook, who then removed the fake negative reviews.

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WPVI’s Troubleshooters suggest the following tips to spot bogus reviews:

  • Click on the reviewer’s profile. Be suspicious if they review multiple businesses in multiple states, especially if it’s unlikely they would use all those businesses in different states at the same time. You can also right click on the image and do a reverse internet search. That search will tell you if the person is real or if it’s a stock photo or something else.
  • If the reviewer is in a foreign country and unlikely to use the local business he/she is reviewing, that’s a red flag, too.
  • Also remember some review websites are fake. Some have been set up by the companies being reviewed. So if you’re going to check out reviews, best to go to a known site you trust.