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How fake accounts and their comments disrupt e-Commerce businesses  

April 17, 2024

Telesign Team

In our fast-paced digital world, particularly within the ever-evolving state of e-Commerce and retail, online interactions have become widespread, creating both opportunities and challenges. Within this dynamic virtual marketplace, a concerning trend has surfaced—the proliferation of fake accounts and associated fake comments and reviews. These deceptive practices not only distort the digital reality that consumers encounter but also pose significant threats to businesses operating in the e-Commerce and retail sectors. 

In an era where online reputation can make or break a brand, the prevalence of fake comments and reviews presents a significant obstacle. Whether generated by sophisticated bots or orchestrated by individuals operating paid fake accounts, fake comments can cast doubt on the authenticity of consumer feedback and erode trust in online platforms.  

For e-Commerce and retail businesses, these fraudulent activities represent more than just a nuisance; they can undermine years of hard work and investment in building a positive brand image. Consequently, companies find themselves navigating treacherous waters, as they strive to distinguish genuine customer feedback from fabricated endorsements, all while trying to safeguard their reputation, minimize financial losses, and nurture consumer trust. 

What are fake accounts?

Fake accounts serve as a tool to manipulate crucial metrics and distort online interactions. These deceptive profiles are crafted through stolen emails, phone numbers, usernames, and passwords. The goal is to create seemingly authentic accounts that can bypass security measures undetected. 

Cybercriminals employ automated bots to create large numbers of fake accounts in short amounts of time. These fraudsters then engage in a range of detrimental activities, from artificially inflating ‘likes’ to spreading misinformation and exerting influence over product reviews. Such tactics not only compromise the integrity of consumer feedback but also undermine the trust and reliability of e-Commerce and retail platforms, posing significant challenges for businesses striving to maintain their reputations and foster genuine connections with customers. 

In recent years, the proliferation of fake comments and reviews has emerged as a concerning trend, one that is seemingly on the rise and which poses significant challenges to businesses across various industries, including e-Commerce. An alarming trend within this landscape is the use of fake positive reviews, which can distort consumer perceptions and manipulate purchasing decisions.  

According to recent statistics, 86% of consumers emphasize the importance of online reviews, stating that they would think twice about making a purchase from a business with unfavorable feedback. Furthermore, approximately 17 out of 20 users admit to second-guessing their decision to buy from a company when encountering negative reviews. Moreover, a staggering 92% of users have revealed that they are more inclined to engage with businesses boasting a four-star rating or higher. 

As fake reviews and comments continue to proliferate, it becomes imperative for businesses to prioritize authenticity and transparency to maintain consumer trust and credibility. 

How fake comments and reviews impact e-Commerce

Within the e-Commerce landscape, the ramifications of fake comments and reviews are particularly pronounced. While a fake comment might seem harmless, its impact can be substantial, altering brand perception, driving away customers, misleading users, and more. Moreover, if fake accounts have infiltrated a company’s ecosystem on a large scale, they accelerate the issue of fake comments immensely, exacerbating the challenge for businesses striving to maintain authenticity and trustworthiness in their online interactions. 

Consumers navigating the extensive landscape of e-Commerce and retail platforms frequently struggle to distinguish between fake and genuine reviews, which can have dire consequences for businesses. This ambiguity surrounding the authenticity of feedback often leads to poor purchasing decisions, negatively impacting a business’s credibility and sales within the competitive retail landscape. 

Negative or misleading comments about a business not only have the potential to inflict significant damage on its image but also deter potential customers from engaging with the brand, resulting in tangible losses for enterprises striving to maintain a positive reputation amidst competition. 

Solutions to fake accounts and fake comments

The issue of fake accounts and their associated fake comments requires a case-by-case approach. What can be prevented on one platform may not apply to another, given the significant variation in platform setups.  And, in the realm of retail, where brick-and-mortar establishments compete for market share alongside their online counterparts, the influence of fake comments extends beyond the digital realm, shaping consumer perceptions across various channels. 

For consumers concerned about fake comments, here are some tips to consider: 

  • Take a comprehensive approach when reviewing. If you purchase something after reading one review or glancing at a company’s average rating, you’re much more susceptible to the influence of fake comments. 
  • Be skeptical of the reviewer behind each comment. Because not every company has solutions in place to stop fake accounts, there’s bound to be some fake comments online. Check the reviewer out yourself to see if they are a new user or if they’ve written other reviews. 

For businesses aiming to curb fake comments and reviews, preventing the creation of fake user accounts is an ideal solution. Here are some ways to protect your platform form fake accounts: 

  • Enhance your onboarding processes to tighten security. Fake accounts can’t do damage if they never get the opportunity. A more secure onboarding process can work to reduce fake user account creation. Telesign Onboarding solutions make it easy to create an onboarding experience that fast-tracks legitimate customers all over the world with quick and easy sign-up while intelligently challenging risky interactions. All it can take is promptly understanding the risk of a phone number entering your ecosystem to deter fraudsters from opening new accounts and gaining access to your shopping platform.   
  • Collect more verifiable personal information during sign-up. An email address alone often isn’t enough to vet an account. Consider collecting a phone number and then employing tools to verify that number. Telesign’s Intelligence helps you to better understand the risk of a phone number so you can decide to block, require further authentication, or allow a new user, while streamlining the process for authentic customers. With intelligence about phone numbers integrated seamlessly into your verification workflows you can ensure that only legitimate customers can get through the onboarding workflow and get access to your e-Commerce platform. 

It’s evident that fake comments and reviews erode consumer trust, lead to financial losses, and damage a business’s reputation. Unfortunately, as long as they’re backed by incentives, and as long as fake accounts are around, they’re not going away. 

If you want to learn more about combatting fake accounts and safeguarding your e-Commerce business against fraud, talk to us today, and make sure to visit our e-Commerce hub.