Attention online shoppers! This is what you need to know to help spot fake reviews

ATLANTA — The fight against fake reviews is getting even more difficult thanks to generative AI.

Now the federal government is considering serious consequences for anyone caught posting or selling fake reviews.

Businesses live or die based on reviews. And that’s why the stakes are so high with so many manipulations going on.

And now with AIG, Channel 2 consumer adviser Clark Howard said it’s getting even worse.

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“You kind of have to look a little bit sometimes,” said Wyn Diaz, who is looking for furniture for her new home.

“I spend a lot more time looking at like 20, 30 reviews before I decide on something,” shopper Rachel Sorrell said.

Learning how to spot fake reviews takes some work. But Stephen McGrew said finding someone to sell you one, not so much.

“We’ve noticed kind of a ramp-up over this last year,” McGrew said. “These companies are getting creative with the, you know, integrating AI and that kind of stuff.”

McGrew owns a roofing business in Acworth.  He shared screen grabs with Channel 2 Action News of messages he’s received from people soliciting him to buy fake reviews.

All of them came in the span of just two months.


“Messages that come in looking like a consumer is actually contacting us for business. When we open up the message, it’s actually either a robot or a company offering to provide fake reviews,” McGrew said.

He declined. But the feds say often, that is not the case.

“The rise of artificial intelligence chatbots, it makes it a lot easier for companies to post these types of reviews en masse,” said Angeleque Linville with the Federal Trade Commission.

In fact, this summer, the FTC proposed rules for fake reviews and deliver stiff punishments to those who violate them.

If the rules take effect, they include $50,000 fines for anyone caught selling or buying fake reviews, businesses allowing employees to post reviews, or buying “followers” or “likes” on social media.

“The proposed rule would both protect consumers who are looking at these reviews, and making those types of decisions, and it would protect those businesses who are trying to compete fairly in the marketplace,” Linville said.

“I try to distinguish if it’s a person talking or just a, you know, a very basic review,” Sorrell said.

Shoppers say thoroughly reading reviews is worth the time.

Diaz said some of the reviews almost led her to purchase a bed that would have been a nightmare.

“The deeper I dug into this bed I almost bought, I saw reviewers saying, like, it’s not stable, it’s not sturdy. It fell apart after like six months,” Diaz said.

Irritated, she turned to close friends for recommendations.

“If I didn’t spend 30 minutes digging through these reviews, I would have ended up with the same problem. So, it’s pretty frustrating,” Diaz said.

Howard said when he’s checking out of business, one of the sites he goes to is Yelp. He said not to go by the star level on any business. Read them as you read through the reviews.

The more you read, the more it’s truth serum. You’ll be able to truly tell.


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