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Get the Skinny on Weight-Loss Scams

Looking to slim down for summer? If so, you are not alone. More than 100 million Americans are watching their diet, spending more than $70 billion a year to lose weight. It is not surprising that bogus diet products and programs was ranked #1 among health care scams reported to the Federal Trade Commission last year.

 

How It Works

  • On-the-make marketers deploy a variety of schemes to get people to purchase their wares.
  • Some create websites that look like those of legitimate magazines and news organizations and fill them with phony articles claiming celebrities have achieved amazing results from various diet pills or herbal supplements.
  • Others use social media, posting bogus stories or quietly paying "influencers" to promote unproven products.

 

What You Should Know

  • Weight-loss products touted as “natural” or “herbal” don’t necessarily mean “safe” or “wholesome,” and some herbal ingredients are toxic in certain doses.
  • Diet and weight-loss programs often encourage you to sign up for a free trial – which, if you read the tiny print, opts you in to getting charged for regular orders or additional products.
  • Claims that sound too good to be true, such as losing weight while eating as much as you want, are, well, too good to be true.

 

What You Should Do

  • Seek advice from a trustworthy source, such as your doctor or a dietitian, before you buy a weight-loss product.
  • Be skeptical about a product or program promising you’ll lose a specific amount of weight per day, week or month.
  • Be wary of ads that tout weight-loss products as "a miracle," "revolutionary" or "a scientific breakthrough."
  • If a product claims to be backed by scientific studies, look them up to verify that they exist and are credible.
  • Check out a weight-loss company’s reputation by searching with the Better Business Bureau.
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