Online reviews can help identify the best and worst products, but they can also be deceptive. The fact is, not every review can be trusted -- some are downright fake.

Recently, one retailer was exposed for offering money for good reviews on his merchandise. He was offering 100% rebates to any customer who subsequently left a 5-star review on his site.

This is evident on Freelancer.com, too, where you'll find a number of advertised "jobs" looking to pay people to write fake positive reviews for retailers.

So how can you tell the scam reviews from the real ones? There's no sure way, but there are a few things you can look for:

-- Products or services that have a lot of reviews are far more trustworthy. There is safety in numbers in this case.

-- Reviews that are completely one-sided -- either glowingly good or glaringly bad -- should be taken with a grain of salt. The best reviews examine all sides of the issue.

-- Sometimes, consider the source: For example, Clark tends to dismiss hotel reviews from those who live in New York City or London, as they are so accustomed to sub-par housing, any hotel where the paint isn't peeling off will get a great review.

So, in the end, use your best judgment when looking over consumer opinions. Look for lots of reviews, and check out several review sites before deciding, not just one.

Image of Clark Howard About the author: Clark Howard

Clark Howard is a consumer expert whose goal is to help you keep more of the money you make. His national radio show and website show you ways to put more money in your pocket, with advice you can trust. View More Articles

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