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Consumer Alerts: Buyer Beware

Today, Yelp is announcing its latest round of 150 Consumer Alerts to inform the public of extreme attempts to influence business ratings and reviews on its platform. For 90 days, affected Yelp business pages will display a Consumer Alert.

Why do we do it? Consumers deserve the best information, allowing them to make well-informed decisions. We rely on our dedicated users, as well as our automated software and team of investigators, for tips that allow us to find those attempting to manipulate Yelp’s system.

We think you would want to know that someone at MDR Fertility Pharmacy encouraged patients to leave Yelp reviews in exchange for a $50 discount on fertility treatments. It’s also important to call out that Home Instead Senior Care of Annandale had an unusual number of positive reviews stemming from the same IP address — a common tactic used to inflate a business’s rating. A Facebook post from someone at Indigo Pines Apartments persuaded followers to leave 5-star reviews on various online platforms, including Yelp, to enter a drawing for a $100 Walmart gift card.

Yelp has always had an aggressive stance against review solicitation — we care most that the content on our site is high quality, reliable and organically motivated. Our recommendation software aims to place biased or unhelpful reviews under the “not recommended” section of a business page, which does not factor into a business’s Yelp star rating. To make sure businesses understand what is acceptable and what violates our content guidelines, we’ve put together a list of do’s and don’ts for business owners.

Yelp’s efforts are a part of its larger Consumer Protection Initiative, including the LIVES open data standard, integrating restaurant health scores, and our ProPublica partnership, incorporating health care statistics into Yelp business pages of medical treatment facilities, and more. We are constantly on the lookout to protect the integrity of information on Yelp, including through tips from the community. If you suspect suspicious activity, please let our team of investigators know.