Today’s headlines are plagued with data breaches and fraud attempts, but fraud goes far beyond stealing identities and payment information. Fake reviews or spammy content is the fastest growing type of fraud causing concern online not just for businesses but consumers as well. While it might not sound as scary as credit card theft or account takeovers, it has much more detrimental and long-term consequences than many might think.

The most prevalent example of this is fake reviews. Consumers rely on reviews when making purchases, signing up for services, or engaging with specific businesses, but fake reviews discredit brands, erode trust, and lead to bad experiences.

We recently polled 1,000 U.S. consumers to explore their experiences, behaviors, and perceptions relating to fake reviews. Findings show that 71% believe ALL consumer goods need customer reviews on company websites.

Looking closely at consumer perceptions around and feelings towards fake reviews, a clear path to brand abandonment has formed.

Consumers see reviews as important to inform their purchasing decisions.

70% of consumers believe customer reviews for products and services are more important than star or numerical ratings online.

BUT…

Consumers don’t trust online reviews to be genuine.

85% believe the reviews they read online are sometimes or often fake or fraudulent

Despite the growing risk associated with fake reviews, businesses can’t simply turn off reviews because of the major role they play in the buying process. Consumer mistrust due to fake reviews leads to dissatisfaction and abandonment — 33% of consumers say they returned items or did not purchase them at all due to a fake review, and 40% will never buy from a business again if they felt they were duped by a fake review.

Fraudsters continue to become more sophisticated in their attacks online, so businesses need to evolve, adopting new strategies to keep users safe. While fake content isn’t the most malicious type of fraud, it still takes a massive toll on customer loyalty, affecting revenues and growth.

And the threat keeps growing, with 50% of businesses expecting abusive and fraudulent types of content to continue increasing over the next 12 months.

This is especially relevant as Amazon Prime Day 2019 approaches. Millions of consumers are expected to visit the e-commerce giant, with many utilizing reviews to help them make decisions. It’s paramount for brands to protect their customers online not only to grow their user base and increase engagement but to also supply loyal consumers with the one thing they really want — a safe and enjoyable experience.

To learn more about the looming threat fakes reviews pose, download the entire Fake Reviews: A Growing Fraud Concern Affecting Brand Loyalty and Growth report.

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Joe Vignolo is the Director of Content Marketing at Sift, specializing in authentic storytelling that connects and converts. Before joining Sift, he ran content at Outreach and Datanyze and was an award-winning broadcast journalist in the San Francisco Bay Area. He also believes Point Break (the original) is a shining example of American cinema.