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CCBC warns residents to be vigilant online

Posted on : 22 Dec 2021

CCBC warns residents to be vigilant online
CCBC warns residents to be vigilant after UK online shoppers buy 80 million ‘disappointing’ items based on rave reviews
CCBC are urging residents to be mindful when Christmas Shopping online after National Trading Standards released statistics showing that UK Shoppers have bought almost 80 million items on the back glowing online reviews, only to be bitterly disappointed when they arrive.
New data, released by National Trading Standards as the festive season gets underway, shows how our trust in online reviews is fuelling a surge in criminals using fake reviews to make a fast buck by selling poor quality goods and services.
For 56% of online shoppers, online reviews are a deciding factor when purchasing a product or service and 67% of those using online reviews are more likely to buy a product or service if it has a five-star rating – highlighting the faith many place in these reviews.
Fake online reviews are estimated to potentially influence £23 billion of UK consumer spending every year. However, the research showed that many people are failing to take simple steps to avoid being duped. Just one in five check the timing and spacing of reviews online – if lots of similar reviews have been posted in a short space of time, they may have been submitted by the same person or group – whilst only 18% look at reviewers’ activity history, which can also provide clues that something is not right. A huge 87% of shoppers using online reviews do not use browser plug-ins such as Fakespot and ReviewMeta to detect bogus reviews.
Cameras, clothing, coffee machines – even cat toys; these are just some of the ‘rave reviewed’ products people regret buying.
How to avoid falling for fake online reviews:
  • Timing and spacing – check for multiple similar reviews that have been uploaded within a few minutes or hours.
  • Reviewer’s history – check out the reviewer’s activity – if an account has been activated recently or has only reviewed a narrow range of products/services, this could indicate suspicious activity.
  • Vague language – legitimate reviews will often be personal and specific to the individual’s experience of using the item, whilst a fake is more likely to be vague, using generic words and phrases such as ‘amazing’, ‘awesome’, ‘buy this product’.
  • Can you contact them? – if a reviewer is happy to be contacted with questions, and is responsive, it’s a good sign they’re legitimate
  • Use a browser plug-in – plug-ins use artificial intelligence to analyse reviews, identify suspicious activity and suggest better alternatives to consumers
  • Look beyond the star rating – whilst a star rating of 4.5 or 5 can be a good indicator of quality, don’t go by this alone – look at the reviews too and check them against these tips.
Mike Andrews, National Co-ordinator, National Trading Standards eCrime Team said, “Bogus online reviews damage legitimate businesses and prop up those seeking to make a fast buck by selling shoddy goods. Many of those we surveyed said they felt deceived, conned and tricked after unwittingly falling for the fakes, often only realising the reviews were suspicious when it was too late. We urge those doing their Christmas shopping online to look out for fake online reviews and avoid being left out of pocket.”
Cllr Nigel George, Cabinet Member for Public Protection commented, “I would urge all residents to follow the steps above to avoid being disappointed when online shopping this Christmas Season. It is both worrying and disappointing that some heartless people are using fake online reviews to try to scam unsuspecting people out of money, especially at a time that is supposed to be full of cheer.”
If you or someone you know has been a targeted by a scam you should report it to Action Fraud online at or by calling 0300 123 2040. For advice and information on how to check if something might be an online scam, call the Citizens Advice Scams Action service on 0808 250 5050. People can also protect their neighbours by joining Friends Against Scams, which provides free online training to empower people to take a stand against scams.

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