COVID-19 is a scary new phenomenon that has caused a monumental amount of damage in a relatively short amount of time. Adding to the stress is that medical researchers are still learning about it, and there is no known cure, much less a vaccine. The best we can do to protect ourselves and others, for the time being, is to stay home as much as possible, practice social distancing, and wear face masks when we do go out.
But in the midst of fear and desperation, some people have promoted or turned to products and therapies that supposedly “cure” the coronavirus. While it’s understandable to want to believe these latest COVID scams, the reality is that they have not been approved by the FDA or pandemic experts. In fact, the Federal Trade Commission has sent warnings to many of these companies, clinics, and marketers across the nation to stop making unsubstantiated claims that these products can cure anyone of COVID-19, much less treat its symptoms.
In total, the FTC has sent nearly 300 of these letters. Companies that receive these letters are legally required to notify the FTC within 48 hours to let them know they have taken tangible steps to address concerns about their products. Failure to comply can result in further legal action. Fortunately, the majority of companies that have received these letters rescinded their services within the appropriate time frame. In some cases, they have been instructed to issue refunds to people who purchased their “remedies.”
These so-called treatments and therapies are called “COVID scams,” and with good reason. Not only can they produce a sense of false hope to the afflicted, but they can prevent people from seeking legitimate medical treatment.
Types Of “Treatments” To Look Out For
There are quite a few different COVID scam treatments being offered right now. Of the types mentioned in the FTC letters, some include
- intravenous (IV) infusions of Vitamin C
- ozone therapy
- nasal sprays
- products to apply directly on the skin
Other companies have claimed to offer personal protective equipment beyond cloth face masks to protect against the virus.
Because COVID-19 is a virus that primarily affects the lungs, none of these remedies come remotely close to addressing the problem, much less any of the symptoms. None of these options have been proven to work at all.
Other Legal Actions Against COVID Scams
The FTC has progressed with several court cases against companies that make false promises about treatments for COVID-19. One of them includes charges against a company that sells what they call a “Basic Immune IGG.” This product falsely claims to both prevent and treat COVID-19, as well as FDA approval, which it does not. The FTC’s case against the marketers addresses these false claims.
How Fake Cures Find Their Targets
As technology gets more sophisticated, even smart people can get fooled by COVID scams. Here are a few ways this can happen:
Scammers are getting pretty good at creating legitimate-looking mobile apps that claim to track the spread of the virus, but in actuality they not only present false information – they also send viruses directly into your device, putting your personal information at risk.
Many informational emails claim to represent a reputable health corporation, such as the World Health Organization (WHO). If you look at the website that the email claims affiliation with, check whether it ends with .gov or .org. If it ends with .com, it’s probably fake.
False News Reports
There’s a wealth of information floating around social media, and not all of it true. Know how to do proper research. Fact-check every claim against what sources like the CDC or WHO is saying. Look for news articles that have been peer-reviewed.
How To Take Action
The truth is the best weapon against COVID scams. If you have any questions about what you’ve heard or read about, ask your doctor or another healthcare professional – especially if you’re considering trying any of these treatments. For the most accurate information about the coronavirus, go to CDC.gov. If you happen to come across patently false information, you can report it on the FTC’s complaint page.
To safeguard yourself against other types of scams and fraud, follow Anti-Fraud News.