Want FTC Attention? Add Bogus ‘Free Trial’ Guarantees To Unsupported Health Claims
Any fraudulent claim to treat or prevent COVID-19 are high FTC enforcement priorities currently, but false claims for consumer health products typically grab agency officials’ attention anyway. When a firm adds “risk free” offers for refunds on top of unsupported health claims, it’s waiving a bullseye for FTC enforcement.
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Products offered in online scams that lead to monthly bills usually are “something that the average person is going to be looking for, a renewal product like vitamins, tooth whitener and skin cream," says an FTC attorney. Federal judge halts sales by Triangle Media and associated companies and freezes their assets after FTC showed “immediate and irreparable injury, loss or damage” to consumers.
Consumer product marketers want more flexibility with disclosures for paid content and endorsements than FTC advises in its guidance, but firms should “tread carefully” and not expect the commission to ease up, says attorney Joan Stewart. FTC could base enforcement on its own research underscoring that advertisers should clearly disclose when they pay endorsers, Stewart says.
FDA’s latest COVID-19 warnings note fewer violative claims than identified in previous warnings to consumer health firms. One had a single noncompliant claim on its website, while another’s violations included identifying potential symptoms of COVID-19. Four men associated with a Florida church face counts of conspiracy to defraud the US and of contempt of court stemming from COVID-1 claims for a bleach solution.