You see the infomercials on late-night TV, find sales pitches in your email inbox that managed to sneak through your spam filter, or maybe even see a sign nailed to a telephone pole … someone wants to sell you a product that will improve your health, help you manage (or even cure) health conditions, reverse the aging process or help you lose weight effortlessly. Consumers are bombarded by these sales pitches. But the only real benefit from most of these products goes to the con artists themselves, who bilk Americans out of $100 billion every year.

Health fraud can damage more than your bank account. You might waste valuable time pursuing useless treatments instead of receiving effective care that could really help you. Some products are not only useless, but can also be dangerous, produced in foreign factories with no safety standards or regulatory oversight.

As you examine the claims of businesses selling these products, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) offers a list of “red flags” to look out for:

  • Claims that a product is a “cure-all” for a variety of ailments.
  • Advertising terms like “scientific breakthrough,” “miracle cure” or “ancient remedy.”
  • A “no-risk” guarantee.
  • Pressure to “buy now, as supplies are limited.”
  • A company that recruits you to become a dealer of their product.
  • Negative comments using terms like “the medical establishment” or “mainstream medicine.”
  • Salespeople who call your home repeatedly and try to “befriend” you.

Remember: a glitzy website, an hour-long TV infomercial full of testimonials, or a full-page advertisement, even in a reputable publication, are no guarantee of the value of a health care product. You would be justified to suspect that the scammers have spent all their money on this advertising, and not on research or a quality product.

Speak to your doctor before you spend your money on medical devices or products. And remember that following the advice of a trained, licensed health care provider is the wisest choice when it comes to making health care decisions. Scam artists take advantage of our hopes, and take advantage of people when they are at their most vulnerable. But the best sense of well-being comes from knowing we have made educated choices.

Want to learn more so you can protect yourself and loved ones from these fraudsters? The FDA offers a collection of consumer articles and videos about avoiding health fraud scams.

Source: IlluminAge Communication Partners with information from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The information in this article is not intended to take the place of your health care provider’s advice. Talk to your doctor before purchasing any products making medical claims.