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Are Fake Reviews Illegal? Exploring Fake Google Testimonials + FTC Update on Fake Reviews

are fake reviews illegal

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Every review about the company is a critical means for building its digital reputation. The Federal Trade Commission, however, had to set new criteria for companies that seek deceptive positive ratings because of the increasing number of fraudulent reviews online. Negative feedback causes doubt in the eyes of potential customers, while positive ones contribute to helping a brand gain trust from people. This article will discuss fake reviews so you will know what to do when encountering a fake review on your business page and why fake reviews are illegal.

What are fake testimonials?

Fake testimonials are posts that appear to be from a consumer but are not. The two most popular methods for creating false reviews are people who have never used the product and incentivized customers with money or other favors in exchange for 5-star reviews. Fake testimonials are illegal and unethical. They do not reflect actual consumer experiences like a testimonial should. According to the FTC, any claims made in fraudulent reviews are against the law, are equally deceptive, and financially scam customers by persuading them to pay for a product or service they otherwise might not, which is a severe violation.

FTC Update on Fake Reviews

The Federal Trade Commission recently announced a new proposal to stop fake reviews and other methods to deceive customers looking into a potential purchase. The FTC’s proposal forbids businesses from producing or selling fraudulent reviews, purchasing positive reviews, and suppressing negative ratings. According to the FTC, the rise of generative AI may further expedite the spread of false online reviews. Under 15 U.S. Code § 45, the FTC can stop and punish parties using deceptive practices affecting commerce, and that fake reviews are against the law according to Section 5 of the FTC Act.

What if a User Posts a Fake Review About Your Business?

The first step is to report a false review if you are certain that you are dealing with one. The majority of review platforms give users the option to report published reviews. The review may be removed from the search engine if deemed offensive or libelous.

How Is Reporting Fake Google Reviews Important?

Fake reviews may damage your company’s online reputation, so it’s critical to keep an eye on them and reply to all kinds of feedback to ensure potential customers have the right impression of your company. For your target market to get an accurate representation of your company, you need to keep an eye on the types of reviews you are getting, both positive and negative.

Negative reviews can help you know areas for improvement, while positive reviews can increase your business. A good Google rating, which essentially depends on the positive feedback your business generates, is one of the most relevant ways to ensure that your Google business profile and company website are the first to appear whenever a potential customer searches for your product.

How Can You Spot a Fake Google Review?

Their reviews have a lot of exclamation points, misspelled words, grammar mistakes, and spammy. Sincere reviews are more likely to concentrate on the unfavorable incidents as they happened rather than the reviewer’s current mood. If a customer is truly dissatisfied with your business, they will want to offer sensible, useful criticism rather than come out as being excessively emotional.

You can tell they are fake online reviews if they have unrelated feedback to your business since they discuss products you don’t offer for sale. You can also tell that they have a fake review when they don’t have any specific information in the review about your company. Written by an unreliable user with a strange username, email address, and profile, as well as a lack of other reviews or several suspiciously parallel negative reviews.

Checking to see if the account has reviewed other companies, particularly those in your field, is another approach to confirm the account’s credibility. A higher likelihood of the review being deceptive exists if the user has no other reviews or appears to brag about a particular competitor continually.

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3 Tools for Detecting Fake Reviews

1. Fakespot

Fakespot uses artificial intelligence to identify fake reviews and fraudulent activities. According to them, its business intelligence tools convert product page views into conversions by extracting intelligence from customer comments. Any textual content can be processed using an NLP API. While Fakespot is primarily used by multi-location businesses to detect fraud, the platform also provides a mechanism for retail marketers to swiftly identify the most important aspects of thousands of online reviews.

2. ReviewTrackers

With ReviewTrackers, negative reviews are spotted more manually. The software has several tools for checking online comments and social media posts. For brand marketers to find trends, it compiles reviews from the best directories and keeps track of what customers say about their experiences. This method simplifies recognizing malicious assaults or bots that impersonate real users. Brand marketers may utilize the platform to instantly personalize review responses with on-brand templated comments and respond in-app to Google and Facebook reviews.

3. The Transparency Company

Artificial intelligence systems use these fundamental indicators to determine if company reviews are real or fake. Businesses that sign up for the service can publish Transparency Reports, which are given by the company, to verify the validity of their own reviews. In addition, they can use the site to find out which of their competitors are doing fraudulent reviews.

How Can You Remove a Fake Google Review?

1. Check if it is a fake review

Google assesses the review’s content at its own pace and only removes it if it is fraudulent. Therefore, it’s crucial to be certain that false reviews exist before flagging them. These factors can be used to identify fake reviews. 

2. Sign in to your Google My Business account

Log into your Google My Business page to access all customer testimonials and endorsements about your company. 

3. Go to the review tabs and choose from the options.

After logging in, options will be displayed, from which you must choose the review tab. You may access all customer reviews for your company by clicking the same link. 

4. Select the post that you want to report.

Choose the review that you believe to be fraudulent. There will be three dots to the right of each review. One of those options is ‘Flag as inappropriate’ when you click on those dots. Your selected review will be marked when you click on it. Provide Google with the details of your flagging decision. You will be given a list of alternatives in the survey that follows. Choose the option that fits your request to have a review removed.

5. Submit the report and wait for their response about your report.

Wait for their response. Google will email you if they need further explanation for flagging the reviews. The evaluation of a review may take several days. The removal method for the reviews is not automated, so be on the watch for follow-up emails from Google and monitor the status of your request to ensure that it is moving forward. 

How Do You Respond to Genuine Negative Reviews?

1. Acknowledge the negative review

Even if you don’t always agree with the customer, it’s still necessary to acknowledge the problem. Thank your consumer for bringing the issue to your knowledge. It never fails to start looking for a resolution, even if the consumer is unfamiliar with your process or is unhappy with their experience with your company.

2. Apologize sincerely

Apologize even if you think that the customer is not right. It’s always better to be the bigger person and say an apology. Saying sorry about a customer’s experience with your business shows that your company has high-quality service and would always plan to deliver by doing this.

3. Explain (Only if necessary)

Sometimes, expressing your apology is adequate to resolve a conflict. Nevertheless, there might also be times when you have to clarify something with extra details. Accept responsibility and don’t offer excuses. Even if they are mistaken, explain why the misunderstanding occurred, extend an apology, and provide them with suggestions on how to get back in touch with your company.

4. Compensate the reviewer

Provide incentives or reward the client for choosing your company again. An apology goes a long way, but compensating them will greatly increase their likelihood of using your company again. Going the additional mile could make the difference between having a normal customer and a regular customer if you’re willing and able to do it.

5. Offer to talk about the matter offline

You can fix your customer’s problems in person or over the phone, allowing both sides to agree. Conflict resolution should ideally take place in private. You don’t want to make a big deal out of it and divert from the positive reviews. It also implies that you can request personal information to assist in resolving the problem.

6. Inform them that you’re planning to make changes

It helps to demonstrate your willingness to adapt and improve your customer service. Your business and customer service are reflected in how you handle challenging consumers just as much as in the positive feedback you receive. A company’s conduct on the internet may attract or discourage the market it is targeting.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What Happens if You Fake Reviews?

Business owners could be sued or fined by the FTC or other groups that look out for consumers and are known to go after companies that post fake reviews. Your company’s reputation and credibility will be affected negatively, and your customers will no longer be interested in purchasing from your business.

How Does Google Detect Fake Reviews?

Before a new piece of content is added to Google, its systems check it to ensure it isn’t fake or incorrect. They also use a machine learning model to check previously released content for fake information that might have passed the first reviews.

How Are Fake Reviews a Problem?

Customer reviews help people discover products, services, and business reputations and let companies know how satisfied customers are. But violators can also make deceptive endorsements or reviews that don’t reflect a customer’s experience to change how people act and hurt companies’ reputations. People reading fake reviews are more likely to choose low-grade products due to seeing misleading information.

Actual customers do not always create customer reviews. Some people create fake feedback to boost or discredit a company’s reputation. Some businesses even publish fabricated reviews regarding their competitors to gain an advantage in their business sector.


In conclusion, encountering fake reviews is displeasing, but it’s fortunate that there are means to submit a report to Google so their team can review it. Fake reviews are illegal, and while you might not be able to control the reviews on your online business page, follow the proper way of handling different kinds of online reviews made by various customers, understand where they are coming from, and answer each review efficiently will lead you to have genuine good reviews from real customers.

Joe Troyer

Joe Troyer is the Founder of Review Grower. He is leading expert in all things Internet Marketing: Pay Per Click Marketing, Search Engine Optimization, Google Business, Reputation Management, Landing Page Conversion, and Call Tracking.

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