Better Business Bureau Warns Consumers to be Aware of Health Care Scams

CHICAGO, IL – You can find them everywhere, on the internet, TV, Radio, newspapers and magazines. Ads offering miracle cures are everywhere- On the internet, TV, radio, newspapers and magazines. They offer cures for everything from aging to cancer. The problem is, the ads and cures they claim are not legitimate. They are often untested remedies that can be harmful and can be dangerous for those who are seriously ill. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) warns consumers to stay clear of these false advertisements.

The ads sometimes offer hope to someone who may be in a medical crisis – but it is a false hope. “Often the ads include testimonials from people who say they have been cured of an illness, but that does not prove that a product works,” says Steve J. Bernas, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois. “Many health scams are very serious problems because they target people with chronic illnesses where there may be treatments but no cures.”

Government studies have found that the victims of health care scams are older most often over the age of 65. Falling victim to health fraud can be a life or death issue; as belief in these bogus products can prevent a person from seeking the advice and treatment from health care professionals. The FDA states that if a product claims to cure a wide variety of unrelated diseases, it’s probably too good to be true.

The kinds of ads that are often seen are:

  • Anti-aging therapies – Even though aging is normal this scam emphasizes the value our culture places on remaining young. There are no pills or treatments that can deliver eternal youth. Living a healthy lifestyle, not smoking, exercising, and a good diet are your best bets for aging well.
  • Arthritis remedies – These includes claims that copper bracelets, magnets, special diets or radiation will cure the illness. Victims may believe these “cures” are working because the symptoms of the disease tend to come and go. There are successful treatments for arthritis but you should consult a doctor.
  • Cancer cures – Scam artists pray on the fear of cancer. There is no one treatment that will cure all forms of cancer. The real danger is in believing in one of these false cures because it may delay treatment and the benefits from a proven, effective therapy.
  • Memory aids – Many people worry about losing their memory as they age. Ads offer so-called smart pills, braining retraining exercises and removal of amalgam dental fillings are all examples of untested approaches that claim to help memory.
  • Health insurance – Some companies offer health insurance coverage that promises more than it plans to deliver. Make sure when you plan to purchase insurance that the company is licensed in Illinois.

To avoid becoming a victim look for the red flags in the ads that promise:

  • Quick or painless cures.
  • Claim the product is made from a special, secret or ancient formula.
  • Offer and services are only available by mail or from one company.
  • Use statements or unproven testimonials from so-called patients.
  • Claim to provide cures for a wide range of illnesses.
  • Claim to cure a disease that has not been cured by medical science.
  • Promise a no-risk money back guarantee.
  • Offer an additional free gift or larger amount of product as a special promotion.
  • Require advanced payment and claim there is a limited supply of the product.

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