Watch CBS News

On Your Side: How to spot fake reviews of online products

On Your Side: How to spot fake reviews for online products
On Your Side: How to spot fake reviews for online products 03:58

Most of us rely on customer reviews when shopping online. Here's what you need to be on the lookout for before trusting those online reviews.

Consumer watchdog groups say sites like Amazon and others need to crack down more on fake reviews. estimates that more than one third of online reviews on websites like Amazon, Walmart and eBay are fake. Of course there is no way to know for certain, but we have some tips on how to spot a potentially fake review.

First off: Who is writing these questionable reviews? Sellers will often hire people to give them glowing reviews -- even though most sites ban this practice.

Or they will offer free product to "try out" in exchange for a review. And who's going to bash someone giving them free stuff?

What can consumers do to make sure that we aren't relying on fake or paid-for reviews?

"Happy people don't leave reviews. Unhappy people leave reviews," said Craig Crosby, publisher of The Counterfeit Report. "So if there is a lot of glowing five-star reviews, you might want to question the authenticity. Or they're using terms like 'awesome,' 'wonderful,' 'great product,' 'fast delivery' -- that's not helpful."

(Disclosure: Craig Crosby is suing Amazon over alleged fraudulent products.)

Also, look out for thousands of reviews on products that aren't name brand. Experts say it's unlikely an obscure brand will have six times the reviews compared to a name brand.

Amazon has a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to fake reviews. They say they'll kick them off the platform and ban them. They also say they 12,000 employees who strictly look for fake reviews. And Amazon claims that more than 99 percent of its reviews are authentic.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.