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TrustInAds.org Releases New Trend Alert on Fraudulent Weight Loss Advertisements

TrustInAds.org, the coalition of internet industry leaders working to protect people from malicious online advertisements and deceptive practices, today released its latest Bad Ads Trend Alert that shines a light on false claims found in certain weight loss and other dietary supplement online advertisements. In this report, TrustInAds.org examines these kinds of scam ads, highlights specific examples of ads and websites that our member companies have encountered and removed from their platforms, and provides basic tips for consumers to stay safe and make good consumer choices online.

TrustInAds.org includes members AOL, Facebook, Google, Twitter and Yahoo.

Today, the sale of numerous weight loss products and dietary supplements through advertising is seen across all mediums – print, broadcast, radio and the web. And while most entities selling these kinds of products provide accurate and truthful information regarding their overall effectiveness, some bad actors - in an attempt to entice consumers - market products with outrageous, unrealistic claims and promises of dramatic weight loss.

“Our member companies are committed to protecting people from malicious online advertisements and deceptive practices and have allocated significant resources to keep these kinds of bad ads off of their platforms,” said TrustInAds.org Executive Director Rob Haralson. “Over the course of the past 18 months, AOL, Google, Facebook, Twitter and Yahoo have collectively removed or rejected over 2.5 million ads related to weight loss and dietary supplements due to numerous ads policy violations.”

The steps our member companies have taken aim to complement the continued efforts by agencies such as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to enforce existing law to ensure that consumers are presented with truthful and accurate information in online ads.

The TrustInAds.org website has a dedicated page (http://trustinads.org/report) that is highlighted in the report, where people can go to learn how to easily report a suspicious ad seen on any of its member companies’ advertising platforms.

The report also provides tips on how to avoid believing these ads that are often too good to be true:

  • Know the facts. For any dietary supplement or weight loss product, always consult with your physician on the best course of action.
  • Watch out for these common themes. On its website, the FTC provides a helpful list of common claims made by scammers selling these kinds of products, like:
    • “Lose weight without diet or exercise!”
    • “Lose weight no matter how much you eat of your favorite foods!”
    • “Lose weight permanently! Never diet again!”
    • “Lose 30 pounds in 30 days!”

    In addition, scammers also set up fake news sites using logos of legitimate news organizations to falsely promote endorsements of their products.

  • There simply are no magic pills, patches or creams. Unfortunately, we’ll have to wait bit longer for science to produce a pill we that can simply take to help us shed the pounds without diet or exercise. Until then, be suspicious of these kinds of claims.
  • If you see a suspicious advertisement on our platforms, REPORT IT! As we highlighted in our last report, one of the best ways we can defend users from harmful scams and bad ads is through user feedback. Each of the TrustInAds.org member companies has simple ways to alert them of potential scams and bad ads. Visit http://TrustInAds.org/report to learn how.

Consumers are also encouraged to report potential bad ads on the Federal Trade Commission’s website at http://ftc.gov/complaint.

In addition, on Tuesday, June 17, Rob Haralson, TrustInAds.org’s Executive Director, will testify before the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation’s Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Insurance in a hearing titled, “Protecting Consumers from False and Deceptive Advertising of Weight-Loss Products.

To download a copy of the Bad Ads Trend Alert, visit http://trustinads.org.

ABOUT TRUSTINADS.ORG

TrustInAds.org comprises a group of Internet industry leaders that have come together to work toward a common goal: Protect people from malicious online advertisements and deceptive practices. With this effort, TrustInAds.org and its member companies are: Bringing awareness to consumers about online ad-related scams and deceptive activities; collaborating to identify trends in deceptive ads and sharing best practices; and sharing our knowledge with policymakers and consumer advocates around the country. To learn more, visit http://trustinads.org.

Follow us on Twitter @trustinads, Facebook http://facebook.com/trustinads and Google+.

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