by Erin Jones | CBS 11 NewsBy Erin Jones

PLANO, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – If you’ve ever had a hard time filtering through online reviews trying to find a good restaurant or reputable business, you may have noticed sometimes the reviews seem off.

The Federal Trade Commission is reporting there’s now an explosion of businesses using of fake reviews to promote their products and services on social media.

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This is especially frustrating for businesses that work hard for their reviews.

Alex Park has been creating custom frames for his customers for more than 25 years.

The manager of Art & Frame Warehouse in Plano doesn’t do any advertising, instead relying on reviews to earn business.

“It’s of the upmost importance,” he said. “Whenever I get a first timer here the first thing they say to me is “Oh, I saw you online. I saw your reviews.””

Park prides himself on his five star reviews and said it’s a shame to see other businesses using fake ones to try drive business.

“I see it as deceiving the public,” he said.

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The FTC announced Thursday, Oct. 14 it has warned hundreds of major corporations and smaller businesses that they could face a fine of just over $43,000 per violation.

Monica Horton, with the Better Business Bureau of North Central Texas, said it can be hard to determine if a review is fake.

“We really want consumers to do additional research,” she said.

She said first check the BBB website to see if a company has been flagged for using these deceptive business practices.

“If there are a lot of reviews coming from one particular IP address, it may be a situation where there’s paid false positive reviews coming in,” she said.

When it comes to reviews with photos attached, she suggests doing a reverse image search to see if it’s been used in other situations.

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If you believe that you’ve spotted a fake review online, you can report this to the social media platform it’s listed on and file a complaint with the FTC.

Erin Jones