Tuesday, January 21, 2020
With New Year’s resolutions well underway, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) is warning consumers of weight-loss scams.
“Any time you see miracle claims for weight loss, you have to very skeptical. There is no such thing as a ‘secret ingredient’ or ‘breakthrough formula’ that can result in weight loss virtually overnight,” said Claire Rosenzweig, President, and CEO of BBB Serving Metropolitan New York.
According to the BBB, in an October 2019 report about mass-market consumer fraud, the FTC noted that more consumers reported falling victim to scams involving fraudulent weight loss products in 2017 than to any other type of fraud included in the survey.
According to the report, victims of weight loss scams made up 2.6 percent of the survey participants, representing 6.5 million U.S. adults.
BBB offers the following tips:
- Always be wary of advertisements and customer endorsements promising “miracle” results or immediate weight loss. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, evidence suggests gradual loss of 1-2 pounds per week is a healthy goal and is more successful for achieving long-term weight loss. Ask your doctor what an achievable weight loss goal for you would be.
- Determine your fitness goals. It’s hard work to lose weight. Find a program you can stick with, preferably one that you enjoy. Does a weight loss plan require you to buy special foods? Can you cancel if you move or find that the program doesn’t meet your needs?
- Avoid products that claim to help you lose weight without diet or exercise, and be skeptical of claims that you don’t have to give up favorite foods or reduce the amount you consume. Doctors, dieticians and other experts agree that losing weight takes work. Pass up any product that promises miraculous results without any effort.
- Check a product’s ingredients with the FDA. Be suspicious of taking special pills, powders or herbs. Some products have been recalled for containing ingredients with potentially dangerous effects. Check the list of public notifications from the FDA regarding potentially harmful weight loss products.
- Be wary of a lack of ingredient list. Some companies have been accused of not advertising certain ingredients that can come with harmful side effects or mix adversely with prescription drugs you may be taking.
- Read all terms and conditions for any weight loss product you buy. Make sure that you are purchasing only the items you wish to purchase, and are not signing up for a subscription unless you want it. Be cautious of any contract that takes payment from your credit card until you cancel.
- When participating in online forums and chat rooms focused on weight loss and fitness topics, be wary of individuals pushing products they claim will help you reach your goals.
- Research the company with BBB.org before purchasing. Many companies peddling “miracle” weight loss products have “F” ratings with BBB. Check the product or company name by checking bbb.org and searching the internet in general to see if there are any complaints alleging that it’s a scam.
- Be wary of free trial offers, and before signing up, understand all the terms and conditions. These deals can become “subscription traps” that hook consumers into expensive shipments of products they did not explicitly agree to buy.
- Report the deceptive ads. Be suspicious of ridiculously positive testimonials on the company website. Testimonials become an easy marketing tool and are easily faked. These are often accompanied with glorious before and after pictures.Call your BBB to report suspicious, confusing or misleading ads to BBB Ad Truth or report a scam with BBB ScamTrackerSM.
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