April 3, 2020
Trustpilot warns consumers about potential online exploitation following the Coronavirus outbreak
Surge in COVID-19 and corona related domains leads to placement of consumer alerts
03 April 2020, London, New York, Copenhagen UK – Trustpilot is warning consumers about exploitation online following the corona outbreak. Since January Trustpilot has detected at least 177 new profile pages on the platform referencing COVID-19 or coronavirus in their domain name. Currently, around 3 new domains including these terms are added every day.
While many of these companies are legitimate, Trustpilot is advising consumers to exercise caution when dealing with any company making claims or providing services around treatment, prevention or testing for coronavirus.
Trustpilot has previously added information on their website notifying all consumers how COVID-19 is impacting reviews and asking them to be mindful of the crisis when reading and writing reviews. Now, further information is being added to domains that offer anything from treatments, medicines and testing related to COVID-19.
Trustpilot’s Investigations team is assessing all such companies on a continued basis. In those cases where businesses have actively tried to mislead consumers and exploit the coronavirus outbreak, Trustpilot will be taking further action to warn consumers and will also be sharing the details with the relevant authorities for them to assess and take the appropriate action.
Carolyn Jameson, Chief Legal and Policy Officer, Trustpilot said, “One of the benefits of being an open platform is that we give consumers the opportunity to warn each other if a company is not living up to their promise. But given how vulnerable people are at this extraordinary time, we wanted to inform all consumers about the need to exercise extra caution. We always encourage consumers to use sound judgment and in the current situation to rely on the guidance given by relevant authorities when it comes to treatments and testing related to the coronavirus.”
Trustpilot is also rolling out new guidelines making it easier for consumers and businesses to navigate. The new guidelines will be followed by a new process for companies and consumers to flag reviews.
"We want to ensure Trustpilot remains a place where consumers can understand and trust the information on our site. Our new guidelines add yet another layer of transparency and easy to understand explanation on how our platform operates and helps to promote the best possible behaviour,“ said Carolyn Jameson.
The new guidelines and updated flagging process comes on the back of a new study showing that 49% of global consumers worry that fake reviews will lead them to waste money on poor products and services, with four-in-ten (40%) saying they are very concerned about their freedom of speech.
About company profiles on Trustpilot
It is consumers who decide which companies are reviewed on Trustpilot. A company profile is created automatically when a consumer searches for the company name on Trustpilot. When consumers then write a review, it will be added to the company's profile page. To protect consumers freedom of speech, Trustpilot doesn’t delete company profiles. Allowing consumers to write their negative experiences about a business can act as a warning to others.
Tips and tricks when using reviews
Though the human eye is not very good at detecting fake reviews, there are things consumers should look out for when using reviews:
Use reviews together with other sources and never replace common sense - if a company only has five-star reviews
Don’t rely on star ratings alone, they give a quick indication but it’s often worth considering different perspectives.
Look at the negative reviews as they can be reassuring as they show the company in question hasn't tried to edit out some of the more 'constructive' feedback.
Look at the number of reviews a company has and their recency to make sure you harness the wisdom of the crowd and not just a select group.
Look for ‘open’ review sites that allow anyone to post a review, which prevents businesses from pre-screening or moderating what you actually read.
Trustpilot is the world’s most powerful review platform - free and open to all. With more than 85 million reviews of over 360,000 websites, Trustpilot gives people a place to share and discover reviews of businesses, and we give every company the tools to turn consumer feedback into business results. Our mission is to a universal symbol of trust helping bring people and companies closer together. Trustpilot reviews are seen more than 2.5 billion times each month by consumers worldwide. With offices in Copenhagen, London, Edinburgh, New York, Denver, Berlin, Melbourne, Vilnius, Trustpilot's 800 employees represent more than 40 different nationalities. For more information, visit https://www.trustpilot.com/
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