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It’s likely that you do this without even thinking now – read the reviews on a product to help you make a decision on whether or not to make a purchase. Customer reviews can be quite helpful when wanting to know what others thought of the product you’re interested in.

But it would seem that not all reviews left are genuine. In fact, retail giant Amazon is currently suing 1,114 people for leaving fake reviews on their site for being “false, misleading and inauthentic”.

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The online retailer claims that defendants or “John Does” as they refer to them (their real names are unknown) are paid for leaving false reviews. The defendants offered their services for as little $5 (£3.25) on the website, with most promising 5-star reviews in return.

The sellers write the text of the reviews themselves, and the fake reviewers avoid detection by using numerous accounts and unique IP addresses – some have even used the images and identities of others to post reviews. This is not the first time Amazon have taken legal action over fake reviews, they sued a number of websites in April for this same reason.

It’s not only Amazon that have been rocked by fake reviews, as a recent Twitter campaign called for TripAdvisor to put an end to fraudulent reviews on their site. Supporters of the campaign, including restaurant critic Jay Rayner, believe that the inclusion of a receipt when leaving a restaurant review would help to prove genuine authenticity. However, TripAdvisor aren’t in favour of this idea, saying: “We believe that every experience counts, not just that of the person who paid the bill.”

What can you do?

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) believe that £23 billion a year of UK consumer spending could be influenced by online reviews. To make sure that you have a better chance of spending your money on a quality product and you’re not being influenced by false reviews, here are our top tips for spotting a fake one:

1) Language: watch out for anything over-the-top, such as excessive punctuation or overly positive or negative language. Be suspicious of any reviews that include industry jargon, overly specific language and a lack of emotion in the writing.

2) Check the reviewer: you should be able to look at their profile and see if they have left multiple reviews – if they have, read over these (if possible). If they’ve only left one review or a range of different ones that are all fairly similar, take this as a red flag.

3) Frequency: if a product or service has received a large amount of reviews over a limited amount of time, for example within an hour or two, then you should see this as a warning sign. Authentic reviews are much more likely to trickle in over a longer period of time.

Here at thinkmoney, we know how important it is to get authentic feedback – that’s why we use Feefo. Feefo is independent of any supplier and is set up so that reviews can only be left by people who have actually purchased a product or signed up to a service. So far, we have received 7613 customer reviews, with 91% of customers saying that they are satisfied with the service we provide.

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