Federal government considers cracking down on fake and paid customer reviews

WASHINGTON D.C. — The federal government is considering cracking down on fake and paid customer reviews, which officials say unfairly deceive the public.

According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), research shows many people rely on those reviews when looking for a product or service.

Now the FTC is considering creating a rule that calls for stiffer penalties for violators.

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“The rapid growth of online marketplaces and platforms has made it easier than ever for some companies to create and use fake reviews or endorsements to make themselves look better or their competitors look worse,” said the FTC in a statement. “It can be difficult for anyone — including consumers, competitors, platforms, and researchers — to distinguish real from fake, giving bad actors big incentives to break the law.”

We spoke with shoppers who said they often aren’t sure if what they’re reading in reviews is legitimate.

“It’s hard to tell what’s true or not,” said Khalid Ebrahim, a Virginia resident.

“You have no idea if it’s real,” said Valentina Sierra, a Washington state resident.

The FTC pointed to some recent cases of the government stepping in because of alleged deceptive reviews.


In August, the FTC charged a rental listing platform with tricking customers by paying for fake reviews.

In January, an online fashion business was ordered to pay more than $4 million for suppressing negative customer reviews, according to the FTC.

The FTC wants to hear from the public about this issue.

Once it’s published to the federal register, you have 60 days to post your comments.

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