As you move through social media the knowledge that scams exist can make using the internet as a resource a difficult task. Often, as a consumer, you might want to see if a business has good reviews. Those reviews are intended to provide accurate information about a business, its service, and employees. Reviews on social media can be a valuable tool and because of that scammers know to utilize them for their own attempts to defraud people. These malicious reviews often suggest someone to visit another website, email someone, or reach out to a preferred employee to receive the same service that they received. All of these methods of contact will connect someone directly to the scammer.
The reason these fake reviews are so dangerous is because in order to keep the review system representing an honest experience, businesses are not able to remove reviews on their own. Instead, they will report spam reviews and attempt to prove that the review is not valid. Often times those reports go unanswered and the review remains published. Scammers depend on that and will continue to provide false information as though it is accurate.
When looking at reviews for a business, be aware of any reviews that provide email addresses, whatsapp handles, phone numbers, or links that are not connected to the business you are researching. These reviews are almost never true reviews of the business you are intersested in. Even on Facebook, when you can view the profile of whoever made that review that does not always mean it is an actual review. Accounts can be hacked, purchased, or created to provide a scammer the apperance of being a true customer.
Take a look at the single review in comparison to others for the same business. Scammers are not usually creative and will use the same review or a very similar review with multiple accounts. If you see the same repeated review, from varied accounts, this should stand out and signal to a fake review, when compared to ones that were written by a true customer of the business.
If you see a link to a website within the text of a review, we would warn you to not click on that link. Similar to links in any potential scams, they will often direct you to a website that is under the control of the scammer. If you truly believe the provided link is connected to the business, instead visit the business' website and navigate to that page through their valid website links. While you might believe the link is valid, the only way to be 100% safe is to do any visting to websites by direct links that you have typed in yourself. Due to how website addresses are displayed in all lowercase, it is very easy to replace a lowercase l (L) with the uppercase i (I). At a glance, you might not spot the difference if one of those letters were in the suggested link.
If you are looking for an honest review of a business, look for the ones that are short and directly refer to the business you are viewing. Most people leaving reviews aren't going to write multiple paragraphs, but still want to share their experience. Another thing to remember is that someone is more likely to write a review for a negative experience over a good one. Keep that in mind when you visit your own favorite local business. If it is your favorite, leave a positive review for it and help their business become another person's favorite spot.
In the end, reviews will always be a helpful tool for consumers and businesses, but being able to recognize the fake ones yourself will become an even better tool.