Shoppers in Lichfield and Burntwood looking for a bargain in the sales are being warned to be on their guard against fake online reviews.
Figures from Trading Standards reveal that 56% of online shoppers use feedback as a deciding factor, with 67% more likely to buy a product if it has a five-star rating.
But with just 18% looking at the activity history of the reviewer, Staffordshire County Council is urging people to be on their guard.
Tell tale signs a review could be fake include similar reviews uploaded within a few minutes of each other or the use of vague language.
Cllr Victoria Wilson, cabinet member for communities and culture at Staffordshire County Council, said:
“With so much choice these days when you’re shopping and some tempting prices it’s really hard to know what to go for.
“This is where genuine reviews can be helpful but as we’ve seen from this research you do need to be careful that they aren’t fake or are a scam.
“Most of us will scan through reviews fairly quickly but by following our simple tips you should be able to spot those fake reviews and hopefully have a safe shopping experience.
“If you suspect you have lost money after being conned by a fake online review, you should report it to Action Fraud or seek advice from a Citizens Advice Scams Action adviser.”Cllr Victoria Wilson, Staffordshire County Council
Mike Andrews, from Trading Standards, 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 shopping online to look out for fake online reviews and avoid being left out of pocket.”Mike Andrews, Trading Standards
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.