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Consumer Reports: Some Amazon reviews may be misleading

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(CBS/WPRI) — Before using the reviews on Amazon as the deciding factor of whether to buy or not buy, Consumer Reports says you may want to dig a little deeper and actually read the reviews.

Amazon shoppers often decide to buy a product because it has a high number of stars. Those stars are based on positive customer reviews and can earn a coveted Amazon’s Choice banner.

But Consumer Reports’ Jake Swearingen says, in a small number of cases, not all those reviews are legit.

“It’s a practice that we’re calling review hijacking,” Swearingen said.

Swearingen used reviews for a back brace as an example. The brace received 4.3 out of 5 stars, but when you look at the comments, you find plenty of the positive reviews are actually for a baby bib apparently taken from another seller.

“Unscrupulous sellers have figured out how to exploit loopholes in the back end of Amazon,” he explained.

Judah Bergman’s company, Jool Baby, sells baby products on Amazon.

He said most people don’t look at the actual reviews and instead focus on the stars the product has received.

“They’re not reading, they’re like, ‘4.5, ok let’s buy,'” Bergman said.

Bergman said he’s seen overseas companies take positive reviews from his listings and post them on their own.

“Ninety-nine percent of the time, it’s been Chinese sellers that have been doing this to us,” he said.

In a statement, Amazon said they track more than 5 billion changes to detail pages every day.

“We have mechanisms in place to proactively detect, restrict and prevent suspicious changes before they appear in our store,” the statement reads.

The company also said if someone reports an issue, they will investigate it and take the appropriate actions.

“I think people can still trust Amazon if they take the time to read reviews,” Swearingen said.

Swearingen said with a little investigating, any online shopper can check whether those positive reviews are real.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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