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Health Fraud Online - An Introduction

written by: •edited by: Brian Nelson•updated: 2/17/2012

This article explains how to recognize an online health fraud or medical scam.

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    Avoid Advertisement with These Features

    Health fraud in the USA involves the promotion and selling of drugs, devices, foods or cosmetics that have not been proven effective for their use by the appropriate regulatory agency. Avoid the product that features any of the following in an advertisement or promotional material:

    • The advertisement promises a quick cure, painless cure, miracle cure, breakthrough or new discovery. If these cures were legitimate, public media outlets and the scientific community would be discussing them.
    • The advertisement claims that the product or device is made from a special, secret, or ancient formula.
    • The advertisement claims that the product or device is a secret treatment or secret cure.
    • The advertisement claims the product can cure the condition or disease.
    • The advertisement claims the product is unique or is revolutionary to the science.
    • The advertisement claims limited availability of the product: only through postal mail, available only through one company or available only for a limited period of time.
    • The advertisement claims the product or device to be effective for a wide range of ailments and diseases. No one product can cure unrelated diseases.
    • The advertisement uses testimonials or undocumented case histories from supposedly satisfied patients. The patients may be legitimate but the reason for their satisfaction with the product or device could have nothing to do with the product or device. It could be they feel better, lost symptoms or are in remission because of approved treatments used before or at the same time with the use of the advertised product or device.
    • The advertisement claims a money-back guarantee with no questions asked. Fraudsters can afford to offer a money-back guarantee because when a customer tries to reach them, they are unavailable.
    • The advertisement claims to cure a disease (such as arthritis or cancer) that is not yet understood by medical science. If the advertisement claims to offer a cure for cancer, check with the National Cancer Institute. If the advertisement claims to cure baldness, check with the American Medical Association. When in doubt, you should ask your doctor.
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    The Basic Rule

    Most American victims of health care fraud are over the age of 65. The problem is very serious. Advertised unproven health remedies may be harmful, they typically don’t work and they do waste money. They may also prevent people from getting the approved medical treatment needed.

    The sale of both illegal and prescription drugs through the internet is illegal in the USA except as a customer through a state licensed pharmacy based in the United States. To check if an online pharmacy is licensed in the United States, visit the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy at http://www.nabp.net/. Remember that the newspaper, magazine, radio or television station displaying the advertisement in the USA doesn’t have to verify the validity of the claim in the advertisement.

    Avoid sales people who demand an instant or quick decision to purchase the product. When the product is legitimate, the salesperson wants the prospective customer to independently research so they will know the company and product are legitimate. So, the basic rule to avoid online fraud still is, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is."

    For more information, visit the United States Food and Drug Administration. You can file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission in the USA or with the RCMP in Canada.

An Introduction to Online Fraud

Fraud online is now comonplace. Are you aware of everyday tricks to get you to part with your information or monies? This series highlights the temptations.
  1. Fraud Online - An Introduction (Part One of Two)
  2. Fraud Online - An Introduction (Part Two of Two)
  3. Auction Fraud
  4. Health Fraud Online - An Introduction
  5. Recognize the Fraud in Miracle Cures