FTC warns about fake, online reviews

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With holiday shopping right around the corner, many people are heading to the internet to buy gifts for friends and family.

Many people read reviews before buying something, especially if it's an expensive product. But some of the reviews you're reading aren't real, and it's happening more often.

In fact, these fake reviews, are now so common, the Federal Trade Commission is forcing retailers to pay fines for having them on their websites.

"It's really important for local businesses to have reviews online that are true to form about what they do, and I think it's really important to identify when there are fake reviews," said Ryan Stringfellow, a business developer for Buzztown, a company that helps businesses find customers online.

Stringfellow said Buzztown screens all reviews before they come in, to make sure the readers who see them aren't scammed by false advertising.

"(We) identify fake reviews, which is pretty easy because you'll see patterns of the same language and the same tone."

Stringfellow said that 99 percent of people that use the internet will read at least one review when buying something, which is another reason the FTC is cracking down on them, even suing some businesses to get the practice to stop.

Not only can companies buy fake reviews, but they can also purchase Facebook likes and fake ratings, so experts say make sure you read loads and loads of reviews and use recommendations from a friend if possible before buying anything.

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