By Rebecca Barr
For the Cordova Times
Chances to hit the gym or take a preferred exercise class were limited in 2020. Maybe it didn’t even exist. In socially distant environments, it is more difficult to move.
For those of us looking to get in shape this year, the Better Business Bureau is ringing the bell in 2021 with tips on how to avoid some common weight loss scams. Desiring to lose weight quickly puts you at greater risk of being fooled by products that don’t work as advertised. Some of the supplements advertised may even cause undesirable side effects, including weight gain.
It is important to be skeptical of “miracle” claims to weight loss. There is no “secret ingredient” or “breakthrough formula” that can lead to weight loss practically overnight.
Fraudulent weight loss products are often advertised along with pictures of celebrities and fake endorsements. Deceptive free trial offers are common. A study conducted by BBB found that consumers submitted nearly 37,000 complaints and reports from BBB ScamTracker related to misleading free trial offers and fake celebrities from 2015 to 2018, with an average loss of $ 186 per victim.
Many consumer complaints have labeled weight loss programs difficult to cancel even if the product did not work as claimed. They reportedly believed they had made a one-time purchase but then received recurring charges to their credit cards for more products. When they reached out to customer service, they were informed that they had signed up for a subscription which was only listed in the fine print of the terms and conditions of their original purchase.
To avoid weight loss product fraud, BBB recommends the following:
- Be wary of promises of “miracle” results or instant weight loss. Ask your doctor what an achievable weight loss goal would be for you.
- Avoid products that claim to help you lose weight without dieting or exercising. Doctors, dietitians, and other experts agree that losing weight takes work. Leave effortlessly to any product that promises miraculous results.
- Read all of the terms and conditions for each weight loss product. Be wary of contracts that require payment from your credit card until canceled.
- Be wary of free trials and before signing up and checking the fine print. These offers can become “subscription traps” that trap consumers in expensive deliveries of products that they have not agreed to purchase.
You can find more tips on smart shopping at trust-bbb.org.
Rebecca Barr writes for the Better Business Bureau Great West + Pacific.