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Insider Tips

How can we be of service? Let us count the ways. We actually mean service – unlike those who have promised it before and didn’t show up when it counted most. Consider these insider tips your key to consumer affairs.

5 things you can do to avoid getting tricked by fake online reviews

Fake online reviews have become such a menace that the UK Government has launched an investigating into online review sites to check if the information posted is 'genuine, relevant and trustworthy'. It's estimated that 81 percent of UK consumers read customer reviews or ratings and 47 percent read blogs to help make purchasing decision. Businesses have wised up to the importance of online reviews and some – not all – encourage friends or hire strangers to write reviews about they're product without actually trying it. In fact, a study by Harvard Business School showed 16 percent of Yelp's restaurant reviews were fake. We've compiled a list of five classic signs of fake reviews to help you make the best decision for your next purchase.

1. Watch out for accounts with only one review

It’s easy for scammers to open a series of accounts on review sites and then leave one fake review through each account. If a business has 50 reviews or less and those reviewers have not commented on any other product or service, be suspicious of their legitimacy.

2. Be wary of overly positive posts

Don't put it past businesses to write a glowing review about themselves to increase sales. If you read a review that seems too good to be true, take a look at the key phases used. Compare the phrases used on the review site with the business website and if they are too similar, it’s likely the business themselves has posted the review.

3. Be suspicious of overly negative posts

Just as businesses know that positive reviews can boost their sales, competing businesses know that negative reviews can sink a counterpart within a matter of months. If you read a review packed with negative jabs as well as specific information about the business the average consumer wouldn't know, beware. There could be some foul play.

4. Look at the business's review history

If a business is struggling with a high number of bad reviews, they may try to improve their reputation by posting positive reviews. An easy way to spot this tactic is to look at the business's reviews from 12 months ago then look at the most recent 10 reviews. If the more recent reviews are filled with a lot more praise but without a reasonable explanation for the improvement (such as a change of management or a renovation), chances are the reviews are fake.

5. If the grammar looks suspicious, the review probably is, too

Have you ever read a review and thought, “Was this review written by someone from another country?”. You were probably right. Unscrupulous businesses hire foreign freelancers to write reviews. The fraudulent reviewers often make bad mistakes with their spelling and grammar. Have you discovered a fake review? Tweet us or submit a comment below.