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Wed, Nov. 25

Column | FTC warns of companies peddling fake COVID treatments and cures

Here at the FTC, we’ve seen people pitching COVID treatments like gemstone bead bracelets, water filtration systems, indoor tanning with red light UV therapy, copper water bottles, high-dose vitamin C IV drips, juices and supplements, stem cell treatments, ozone therapy, laser light treatments, and more. All of these products and treatments have one thing in common: there is no evidence – as required by law – that they work against the coronavirus.

As part of our ongoing efforts to protect consumers from sellers of scam COVID-19 treatments, the FTC has sent 20 more warning letters to companies that claim their products can prevent, treat or cure COVID-19.

Like the hundreds of other warning letters the FTC has sent to other companies, these letters require the sellers to notify the FTC within 48 hours of the specific actions they have taken to address the agency’s concerns. The FTC will follow up with companies that fail to make adequate corrections. The good news in nearly all cases so far, those who get the letters have stopped making the false claims or selling the scam product or treatment.

When it comes to the fight against the coronavirus, knowing the facts will help. If there’s a medical breakthrough, you’re not going to hear about it for the first time through an ad or sales pitch.

Here are tips to follow:

– Always talk with your doctor or another health-care professional before you try any product claiming to treat, cure or prevent COVID-19.

– Head to CDC.gov for clear and concise information on COVID-19. Also visit the FDA’s resources page to learn about valid treatments.

– Learn more about scams related to COVID-19 by visiting ftc.gov/coronavirus and subscribing to Consumer Alerts from the FTC.

– If you find a product that claims to prevent, treat or cure COVID-19, report it to the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.

(Tressler works for the Federal Trade Commission’s Division of Consumer and Business Education.)

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