The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau had issued policy guidance regarding potentially illegal practices related to consumer reviews. "The CFPB seeks to ensure that customers can write reviews, particularly ones posted online, about financial products and services that accurately reflect their opinions and experiences. The guidance also highlights that practices such as posting fake reviews or inserting clauses that forbid a customer from publishing an honest review may violate the Consumer Financial Protection Act."
The CFPB’s guidance describes certain business practices related to customer reviews that are generally unlawful under the Consumer Financial Protection Act, including:
- Contractual ‘Gag’ Clauses: Attempting to silence consumers from posting an online review can undermine fair competition. Banks and financial companies that include clauses in form contracts that forbid a consumer from posting an honest review may be engaged in unfair or deceptive practices.
- Fake Reviews: Markets can be harmed if consumers cannot trust that online reviews are legitimate. Laundering fake reviews in ways that appear completely independent from the company to improve their ratings may constitute a deceptive practice.
- Review Suppression or Manipulation: Consumers cannot easily shop and compare products and services when firms engage in practices to limit the posting of negative reviews or manipulate reviews to trick or confuse consumers. The guidance explains why these practices may be unlawful.
The guidance document is here.