The government is being urged to go further with its clampdown on fake reviews.
A government announcement aimed at protecting consumers last week revealed plans to make it “clearly illegal” to pay someone to write or host a fake review.
Fake reviews will be tackled by consulting on a new law against:
- Commissioning someone to write or submit a fake review.
- Hosting consumer reviews without taking reasonable steps to check they are genuine.
- Offering or advertising to submit, commission or facilitate fake reviews.
The Competition and Markets Authority will be able to directly enforce consumer law, including new powers to fine firms up to 10% of their global turnover for mistreating customers.
Fake reviews are a contentious issue within estate agency.
Reviews website allAgents has in the past made a number of criticisms about the accuracy of feedback left on the Trustpilot website about firms within the property sector, all of which the platform refutes.
Responding to the latest government announcement, allAgents’ Martin Mckenzie, questioned if the crackdown goes far enough.
He told Estate Agent Today: "Whilst we welcome these new rules, this is not enough. They should go further and hold the directors of these review platforms responsible who are knowingly putting content before authenticity.
"In our opinion, this is the only real way to combat fake reviews.
"Consumers are being misled into buying products or services believing that the reviews are genuine because they are on a 'trusted' review platform.
“We are also now finding this may have overflowed into the value of stock market shares with investors in some of these companies losing cash having unwittingly bought stock based partly on fake or misleading reviews.
"I wouldn't be surprised if some of these become the next big sector for litigation and class actions."