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Consumer Alerts: We’re on the Lookout

As part of Yelp’s ongoing Consumer Protection Initiative, we’re announcing 232 Consumer Alerts that will serve as notices to our users of extreme attempts to manipulate business ratings and reviews on our platform. These alerts will generally be removed from the affected Yelp business page after 90 days if the offending behavior stops.

Since 2004, Yelp’s mission has been to connect people with great local businesses, and that includes protecting consumers from those that aren’t playing by the rules. We work to provide consumers with the best information so they can make well-informed decisions with their hard-earned money. We take a multi-layer approach, relying on our dedicated community of users, our automated recommendation software, and our team of investigators to weed out egregious attempts to manipulate reviews and ratings on our platform.

Who were some of the worst offenders this past quarter?

  • Someone associated with Monterey Dental Center in Monterey, CA encouraged a patient to remove their negative Yelp review in order to receive a refund on a past payment. We also found an unusual number of positive reviews stemming from the same IP address, which is a common tactic used to inflate a business’s rating.
  • Someone was caught sending money via PayPal in exchange for a review of M&Y Personal Injury Lawyers, which has various locations throughout California.
  • A newsletter for Houston Bark Park and Daycare in Houston, TX offered a free day of daycare for dog owners in exchange for a five-star review.

We take an aggressive stand against review solicitation, in particular. It’s important to us to encourage content on our site that is of the utmost quality, reliable, and not influenced by discounts or payments. 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. For business owners looking to understand what is acceptable and what violates our content guidelines, check out our list of do’s and dont’s.

Yelp exists to empower and protect consumers, and these efforts are a part of our larger Consumer Protection Initiative. This includes 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.

Our team of investigators is 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 us know.