Earlier this year, with the help from Better Business Bureau Serving Western Pennsylvania, the FTC settled charges against the marketers of “NutriMost’ Ultimate Fat Loss System. The marketers of the weight-loss system made claims that the product was using “breakthrough technology” and “personalized supplements.” The advertisements also alleged to help consumers lose “20 to 40+ pounds in 40 days” without cutting calories.
According the FTC’s complaint NutriMost websites, Facebook, and newspaper ads, etc., made claims that the Nutrimost System does not require a restrictive diet, caused permanent weight, and helped users burn between 2,000 and 7,000 calories a day, through new weight loss technology.
In the complaint the FTC alleged that the defendants required buyers to sign a contract agreeing not to make negative statements about NutriMost System. The contract stated that if consumers violated the agreement they would need to pay defendants $35,999. By providing franchisees this contract as well as providing deceptive marketing materials the company violated the FTC Act.
The settlement prohibits Nutrimost and its franchisees from making weight-loss and health claims unless they are truthful and supported by reliable scientific evidence. It must also not be deceiving when stating that users do not need to follow a restrictive diet. In order to achieve the weight loss that Nutrimost advertised to consumers, one would have to follow a very low-calorie diet (less than 800 calories a day). Additionally, they must divulge that physician monitoring is recommended to avoid health risk.
Before signing up for a weight loss program:
- Look for buzzwords. Phony products are often promoted using terms like “breakthrough,” “revolutionary,” “miraculous,” “secret,” or “miracle.” Scammers or manipulating marketers often pair these buzzwords with claims from people who have shed pounds often without any dieting or exercise.
- Don’t always trust promotions - Scam product websites will be littered with supposed media endorsements but these are often fake. Always do your own research no matter how many news and media logos they tout. Take celebrity endorsements with a grain of salt. These individuals are paid to say positive things about the products and may not have ever even used them. Also, likenesses of celebrities are often used without their permission.
- Be cautious of free trials. Many free trial offers do not clearly disclose that you risk being automatically enrolled into a monthly shipment if you do not cancel or return the product within a certain time frame.
- Read before your sign. Read a contract fully, including the fine print, before you sign. Be sure you understand all the terms and conditions. If you have any questions about the contract have an attorney look over it.
- Do your research. Before purchasing a new product read the product reviews. Research at bbb.org/cleveland.
Remember: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!