Can You Trust Online Reviews? Apparently Not Much

Consumer advocate says there’s more deception in the world of online reviews than people realize. She recommends getting tips from friends and family instead.

Yellow caution tape
(Image credit: Getty Images)

We use them all the time — Yelp, Tripadvisor, the BBB — websites that post reviews by customers, clients and patients of all sorts of companies and health care providers. But can we trust these reviews? Are the websites that post them taking steps to assure they are legit?

“No and no,” says Kay Dean of San Jose, Calif., a former criminal investigator in the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Inspector General. Dean’s bad experience with a health care provider with glowing reviews led her on a journey into the expansive realm of fake online reviews. “I no longer put an ounce of trust in any online review site,” she says.

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H. Dennis Beaver, Esq.
Attorney at Law, Author of "You and the Law"

After attending Loyola University School of Law, H. Dennis Beaver joined California's Kern County District Attorney's Office, where he established a Consumer Fraud section. He is in the general practice of law and writes a syndicated newspaper column, "You and the Law." Through his column he offers readers in need of down-to-earth advice his help free of charge. "I know it sounds corny, but I just love to be able to use my education and experience to help, simply to help. When a reader contacts me, it is a gift."