Beware of TV Ads That Promise ‘Miracle’ Weight Loss

Beware  of TV Ads That Promise 'Miracle' Weight Loss

Would you like to "lose a few pounds" and get back in shape so you can look great on the beach this summer? Well, the AARP Fraud Watch Network warns you to watch out for offers that will shrink your bank account, not your waistline.

Don't be fooled by the ubiquitous ads for acai berry or other products that promise huge results on the internet or television. Watch for buzzwords such as "miracle," "revolutionary," "secret" or "scientific breakthrough." Does it promise results without exercise or eating healthier? Does it require a contract or large advance payment, or is there a free trial with "strings?"

According to AARP, the dangers of weight loss scams are twofold. First, there is a real risk to your health. You have no way of knowing what these treatments or medicines contain or how they might impact you. Second, your personal information and finances could be compromised. Free trials are often just a way to sign you up for more costly and hidden charges — and/or steal your personal information.

Many products promise no risk money-back guarantees, then disappear when consumers try to cancel or get a refund. Check out the story of Jesse Willms, who, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) alleges, defrauded consumers of $467 million through "risk-free" trials that included a variety of acai pills.

Here's what AARP's Fraud Watch Network suggests:

  • Talk to a medical professional if you want to lose weight. Discuss your options with a dietician or your personal doctor. They can tell you whether a product is safe and effective.
  • If you have already made a payment for a product or service, contact your credit  card company and/or bank and tell them you may  be the victim of a fraud. They'll advise you on cancelling payments and ensuring that your finances remain secure.
  • If you think you are the victim of a scam, file a complaint with the FTC or contact the attorney general in your state. For more information about specific types of weight-loss scams, visit the FTC and the Food and Drug Administration.