March 7, 2016 11:50 am
If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. We've all heard this common adage repeated time and time again as a warning sign designed to help us spot all sorts of con artists and scams. But the expression also is good to keep in mind when evaluating health claims as well. The sad fact is that consumers trying to improve their health waste billions of dollars on unproven and fraudulently marketed health care products.
Some of these products could in fact be harmful. Others are simply useless. Worse yet, those with serious health problems may be throwing away money on unproven products with little or no clinical benefits and wasting valuable time in the process that should be spent seeking proper medical treatment. It seems as though there is no shortage of huksters out there who will promise you a medical miracle in exchange for money. These con artists prey on the emotions of the sick and elderly as well as family members and caregivers who will spare no expense in their desperate search for a cure.
In most cases, what these con artists are selling is nothing more than false hope in a bottle. It is for that reason that the Federal Trade Commission has developed a list of tips, phrases and marketing techniques that will help you spot a phony health claim. Be wary if:
- The product is advertised as a quick and effective cure-all for a wide range of ailments.
- The promoters use words like scientific breakthrough, miracle cure, exclusive product, secret ingredient or ancient remedy.
- The text utilizes impressive-sounding medical terminology used t disguise a lack of good science.
- The promoter claims the government, the medical profession or research scientists have conspired to suppress the product and keep it out of the marketplace.
- The advertisement includes undocumented case histories claiming amazing results.
- The product is advertised as being available from only one source.
- Payment is required in advance.
- The promoter promises a no-risk, money-back guarantee. Many so-called fly-by-night operators are not around to respond to your request
- for a refund.
- A health care clinic requires patients to travel and stay far from home in order to receive treatment.
- While many clinics offer effective treatments, some prescribe untested, unapproved, ineffective and possibly dangerous remedies. Also, physicians who work in such clinics may be unlicensed or lack the appropriate credentials.
- A dietary supplement claims to treat, prevent or cure a disease. Don't be taken in by these false and exaggerated claims, unproven products and miracle cures: check all claims, seek independent verification and consult a medical professional before buying or using any health care product. The extra time will be well-spent in helping you to avoid becoming a victim of a phony health claim.