How to spot fake online reviews

From hotels to restaurants, we often rely on online reviews and while many aren’t what they seem there is a way to spot the fakes.

Penrith mum Peggy Wilcox receives most of her real estate clients from Facebook inquiries.

She was shocked when her page was recently flooded with negative reviews.

“One day we started getting all these notifications saying that we’re getting these one-star reviews,” Ms Wilcox said.

Penrith mum Peggy Wilcox said she’s been left fake reviews on Facebook. Source: 7 News

She soon discovered the reviews were fake and those responsible had never used her business.

According to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, online reviews are incredibly powerful, with 80 per cent of consumers using them to decide on where to travel, eat and who to do business with.

But more than 15 per cent of all online reviews are fabricated.

The ACCC said 80 per cent of consumers rely on online reviews. Source: 7 News

The ACCC’s Michael Schaper said fake reviews are a “huge issue”.

“It affects just about every business in one shape or another in just about every industry,” he said.

“We’ve seen businesses simply cut and paste reviews and put them into online reviews for themselves.”

Mr Schaper said fake reviews can be spotted by “poor use of English”, “overly glowing reviews” and ones “using marketing speak”.

Penalties can range up to $1.1 million.

7 News proved how easy it is to fake reviews by setting up a Facebook page for a pizza restaurant and purchasing positive reviews from a company in Asia. It generated real inquiries.

 To get rid of fake reviews, contact your small business commissioner.

7 News set up a fake pizza business and purchased online reviews. Source: 7 News