Fake online reviews probed

THE Office of Fair Trading is warning Bundaberg residents about bogus online testimonials.

Fair Trading executive director Brian Bauer said false testimonials were a breach of the Australian Consumer Law.

"Accurate customer reviews and testimonials play an important role in online consumers' decision making," Mr Bauer said.

"Consumers are entitled to expect reliable and independent information about a product or service."

An inquiry by the Office of Fair Trading and other

consumer protection agencies has resulted in more than 40 businesses across Australia being asked to substantiate that the claims made on their websites are genuine.

The Office of Fair Trading is investigating five businesses relating to testimonials that may contain false or misleading information.

These businesses were served substantiation notices, ordering them to demonstrate that the representations made are honest and accurate.

Mr Bauer said the restaurant, real estate and alternative health care sectors are particularly prone to the publication of bogus reviews on a variety of services and products.