UNITED KINGDOM, Nov. 1, 2023 -- Due to concerns that chatbot-like AI systems are being used to write counterfeit online reviews for profit, workplace review sites Glassdoor and review platform Trustpilot, will share information on deterring fraudsters with retailers. Major online companies including Amazon, Booking.com, Expedia and Tripadvisor have come together to combat fake reviews too. Some are already using AI to detect fakes reviews. It comes as the increasing power of AI raises the prospect of an arms race between the fake review fraudsters and retailers.
The companies met in October 2022 in San Francisco at the first Fake Reviews Conference, organized by travel site, Tripadvisor. Attendees heard from experts in government, academia and the industry at large on common challenges and potential mitigation approaches related to the issue of fake reviews. This resulted in the establishment of a formal coalition to collaborate on public education and ongoing information sharing between members, in an effort to decrease review fraud.
In a statement Amazon said, "We aim to prevent fake reviews from ever appearing in our store and in 2022, we proactively blocked more than 200 million suspected fake reviews."
Fake reviews damage a company's reputation and lead consumers to buy poor-value products and services. A recent government report found that fake reviews of products alone could cost UK consumers around £312m each year.
The government plans to use the new Digital Markets, Competition and Consumer Bill currently going through parliament to combat buying, selling or hosting fake reviews.
The new group, which calls itself the Coalition for Trusted Reviews, is already using AI to help detect fake reviews, but AI could also make it less expensive and faster to write large numbers of convincing bogus reviews.
The cross-sector group will fight the fraudsters by:
Up to 15% of all reviews on e-commerce platforms in three common product categories - including consumer electronics, home and kitchen, and sports and outdoors - were probably fake, it said.
The US the Federal Trade Commission is proposing similar action.
"If the rule is implemented, we would be able to seek civil penalties up to $50,000 per violation of the rule, which can up very, very quickly and be quite significant," said Michael Ostheimer, senior attorney for the Division of Advertising Practices at the FTC.
Ostheimer said the FTC believes that fake reviews and testimonials are prevalent and harm consumers as well as businesses.
According to a study by internet marketing service Uberall, 90% of consumers use reviews before buying, with 66% agreeing that fake reviews, which are illegal, are a major problem.
Companies benefit from positive reviews for numerous reasons, including driving purchases, visibility online and establishing trust. The Better Business Bureau is warning consumers of a new scam that is padding reviews for companies.
In the so-called "brushing" scheme, consumers will receive unordered merchandise from typically foreign, third-party sellers who obtained their address online. They then will make it look like the consumer – now appearing to be a verified buyer, wrote a glowing online review to improve their products' ratings.
Coalition members will next meet in Brussels Dec. 5-6, 2023 for the second conference, organized by Amazon. False consumer reviews line the pockets of businesses that provide inferior products. Online practices that defraud and cheat consumers should be illegal.
August 3, 2023 -- Global leaders from Trustpilot, Pasabi and leading trust & safety operators have joined forces to anticipate potential challenges presented by the adoption of AI tools by bad actors.
Industry experts met at the Marketplace Risk event to discuss the evolving challenge of recognizing authentic content in a ChatGPT World, including how ChatGPT is now being used to aid fraudulent enterprises and why behavioral analytics along with content analysis are the most formidable tools for bad actor detection.
The session also explored how AI technology can be used to help automate content moderation at scale, and what considerations are necessary for platforms looking to tackle fake content and bad actors effectively.
The event’s panel consisted of Yu-Lan Scholliers, Head of Product at Checkstep, Chris Downie, CEO & Co-Founder of Pasabi, Anoop Joshi, VP Legal & Platform Integrity of Trustpilot, and Saray Covey, Technology Partner Development at Alliance to Counter Crime Online.
As consumers increasingly turn to online shopping, it was revealed that 95 per cent of consumers base their purchase decisions upon online reviews. However, research has also revealed that 82 per cent of consumers have read a fake review in the last year.
Chris Downie, CEO & Co-Founder of Pasabi, commented: “The proliferation of fraudulent reviews significantly impacts more than £130m in annual online transactions. While regulators, such as the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), are beginning to respond to this issue, it remains imperative for review platforms to take action to combat the challenge. A crucial aspect of efforts to tackle the rise of fraudulent threats involves a collaborative approach involving regulators, businesses and providers of fraud detection software to detect fake reviews and hold bad actors responsible. This will in turn help bolster consumer trust as well as business confidence.”
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Building trust with customers is essential and a necessary part of an ethical marketplace. It is also key to boosting loyalty and ultimately your bottom line. Businesses and consumers benefit from genuine customer reviews because it helps them make informed decisions about where to spend their dollars and gives businesses a chance to improve or maintain their reputation. Customer trust is dependent on a company’s ability to tap into the human experience and form an emotional connection with customers by displaying thoughtfulness, openness, honesty, and reliability. Reviews offer a chance to address shortcomings and rebuild trust.
Bad reviews can happen to any brand it is how your company responds that matters. Potential customers are not just reading what others have to say about your business; they also read how you reply to that feedback.
Here are some tips for handling consumer trust issues related to your business:
1) Make outstanding customer service a priority. Both sales and support teams can develop customer trust by establishing high service standards. Delivering unique experiences by personalizing interactions with your customers will make consumers feel more engaged. Businesses that take the information they have about them and use it to improve their experience will leave a lasting impression. From using their preferred method of engagement or offering specific recommendations based on their prior purchases, these good impressions are invaluable to building loyalty, trust and a sterling online reputation.
2) Respond promptly to negative reviews. Prospective customers consider the newest reviews to be the most relevant and accurate, and they could interpret a lack of response as a business's lack of interest in a customer's concerns. Consistently check reviews on various websites, so you can quickly respond to negative comments, but it is also important to respond to positive reviews, as that shows appreciation.
3) Be respectful when responding to negative comments. You should avoid making denials or excuses, even if you have a different viewpoint. Recognize their concerns, apologize for the error, and demonstrate that you value customer feedback as an opportunity for you to improve.
4) Be sure to claim your business profiles. Claiming your profiles on as many platforms as possible will allow you to respond to comments and reviews. On certain platforms, managing your profile includes being able to appeal negative reviews.
5) Tell the customer how to contact you. Responding online is important, but it can feel impersonal for the customer. When you talk to a customer one on one, they'll know that you genuinely listened to their concerns. This also gives your company a chance to reach a resolution that makes both you and the customer satisfied.
6) Encourage customers to leave reviews on Trustpilot, Google and BBB.org. Customers can post feedback about marketplace experiences with businesses, brands, and charities. Trustpilot, Google and BBB.org reviews can be verified and responded to by your business’ team members and in the case of the Better Business Bureau may be sent to the business before they are published online.
7) Concentrate on an emotional connection over a transactional one to improve customer trust. Put your most empathetic foot forward because customers increasingly want empathy from companies. To establish and deepen those connections with your customers, become familiar with their needs, respect their opinions, and practice responsiveness. In the digital age with increased accessibility, you can be sure people will observe your genuine and compassionate approach.
BrightLocal's Consumer Review Survey, an annual report that was first released in 2010, explores how consumers behave around online reviews for businesses, and the factors that influence their decisions to use a business. Regarding big tech, online reviews and consumer opinion, the latest edition, finds:
The presence of fake reviews appears to be eroding the overall trust in reviews on these sites and on the internet in general.
BrightLocal's Head of Content and author of the research, Jamie Pitman, said, "It's clear that fake reviews are playing a part in the diminishing trust in some of the world's largest tech companies. This makes things particularly hard for both businesses and consumers as both have to be ever-vigilant around the reviews they read and factor into their customer service or purchase decision." She added, "The research reveals that more consumers than ever use reviews to evaluate local businesses. 98% of consumers looked at reviews for local businesses in 2021, compared to 87% in 2020. It's clear that more needs to be done by the large companies that house fake reviews to stamp them out and regain consumer trust, especially during such a long period of uncertainty being felt the world over."
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After facing legal class action suit for selling misleading subscriptions to small and medium sized business in February of last year, the business review platform is suing a London Immigration company. Global Migrate is accused of posting more than 700 fake reviews. The suit filed in London County court is seeking equitable remedy and compensatory damages.
It has been alleged that Trustpilot allows businesses to pay them to access its marketing services and use Trustpilot technology to filter reviews, selecting favorable posts that customers may place on their own website or other places. Trustpilot published fake reviews for Bizzyloans but deleted them after they were brought to light by KwikChex, an online investigations company. Trustpilot denies that it permits any known fraudulent reviews on its site.
Global Migrate is said to have “failed to respond to repeated enforcement action to end the abuse of its platform.” Trustpilot is seeking monetary damages and injunction preventing other fake reviews. The suit also alleges breach of contract which expressly forbids fake or altered reviews. If successful, Trustpilot will donate the proceeds to consumer rights groups.
“Anyone trying to misuse reviews to potentially mislead consumer opinion will be held accountable,” according to Carolyn Jameson, Trustpilot Chief Trust Officer. She added, "Trustpilot exists to build trust between businesses and consumers, which is why our rules are so important. In order to protect consumers and help ensure they are able to shop with confidence, we are increasing our enforcement strategy - it is the right, and necessary, thing to do."
Taimur Jawed, director of Visa Embassy Limited the alternate name for Global Migrate did not respond to an invitation to comment. Trustpilot stated that in 2020 it removed more than 2.2 million fake reviews, amounting to more than one in 20 of all reviews submitted to the site that year. It said it had also invested in technologies to detect anomalous reviews and automate detection, as well as introducing a function for users to verify their accounts.
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