Options for going to the gym or attending a favorite workout class were limited in 2020. Maybe even non-existent. Socially distant environments make getting exercise more of an effort.
For those of us looking to get in shape this year, Better Business Bureau is ringing in 2021 with tips for avoiding some common weight loss scams. The desire to drop weight in a hurry creates a higher risk of being deceived by products that do not work as advertised. Some of the supplements promoted may even result in unwanted side effects, including weight gain.
It’s important to be skeptical of any “miracle” claims for weight loss. There is no such thing as a “secret ingredient” or “breakthrough formula” that can result in weight loss virtually overnight.
Fraudulent weight loss products are often advertised alongside images of celebrities and fake endorsements. Deceptive free trial offers are very common. A study performed by BBB revealed that consumers filed nearly 37,000 complaints and BBB ScamTracker reports related to deceptive free trial offers and fake celebrity endorsements from 2015 to 2018, with an average loss of $186 per victim.
Many consumer complaints described weight loss programs as difficult to cancel, even if the product did not work as claimed. Reports stated they believed they were making a one-time purchase but then received recurring charges to their credit cards for more of the product. When they contacted customer service, they were informed that they had signed up for a subscription, which was only disclosed in the fine print of the terms and conditions of their original purchase.
To avoid weight loss product scams, BBB recommends the following:
Use caution with promises of “miracle” results or immediate weight loss. Ask your doctor what an achievable weight loss goal for you would be.
Avoid products that claim to help lose weight without diet or exercise. Doctors, dieticians and other experts agree that losing weight takes work. Pass up any product that promises miraculous results without any effort.
Read all terms and conditions for any weight loss product. Be cautious of any contract that takes payment from your credit card until you cancel.
Be wary of free trial offers and before signing up and review the fine print. These deals can become “subscription traps” that hook consumers into expensive shipments of products they did not agree to buy.
For more advice on how to shop wisely, visit bbb.org.
Rebecca Barr is a marketplace manager for the Better Business Bureau Northwest + Pacific based in Boise.