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Consumer Watch: How To Spot A Fake Review

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Before we shop, eat or buy just about anything, many of us will check the reviews. Our Consumer Watch Team has learned a growing number of them are fake.

Business review site Yelp did the research and estimates more than 20% of reviews are made up. In fact, other research indicates businesses are the ones cheating, posting fake glowing online reviews about their establishment and even negatives ones about their competition.

Phony reviews are not only unethical, but illegal. An undercover sting in New York found 19 companies doing it. They had to pay more than $350,000 in fines.

Here's how to spot the legit reviews from the fakes:

* Long reviews are more trustworthy than short ones. Anyone moved enough to write a review, whether angry or pleased, will usually write more than a few lines.

* Frequent reviewers are more reliable than someone who has never posted before.

* On the other hand, be leery of a person who has submitted a lot of reviews in a short period.

* Compare the same business on multiple review sites, including professional ones.

* Vague reviews may not be genuine. The more specific, the more reliable.

* Check if the review uses emotional language. An objective review will usually summarize and critique the content or features of the product. A review with an agenda sidesteps this process.

* Be skeptical if the review admits bias.

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    Thank you for your e-mail. I read every letter, but because of the volume it may take a while for us to get back to you. If we see a way to help, the Consumer Watch Team will contact you. Amanda Taylor, NEWS 9 Anchor/Reporter

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