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FTC, FDA Send Warning Letters to Seven Companies about Unsupported Claims that Products Can Treat or Prevent Coronavirus

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The BBB is passing on a warning from the FTC and FDA about phony coronavirus treatment claims. The agencies have sent warning letters to seven companies raising concerns about their coronavirus-related products. In a warning to all businesses, they say, "If your business is making Coronavirus claims, stop."
 
One letter went to the televangelist Jim Bakker and The Jim Bakker Show citing antiviral claims for liquids, gels and lozenges. The Missouri Attorney General's office has sued them over the bogus claims.
 
Other claims the FTC and FDA challenged in their letters include:
  • "So it's widely acknowledged in both science and the medical industry that ionic silver kills coronaviruses."
  • "The most powerful anti-virus essential oils to provide defence against coronavirus."
The FTC advised the companies that because "there currently are no vaccines, pills, potions, lotions, lozenges or other prescription or over-the-counter products to treat or cure coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)," the companies must immediately cease making such claims. The companies were given 48 hours to respond to the letters or face other enforcement actions.
Both FTC and FDA will continue to monitor social media, online marketplaces, and incoming complaints to help ensure that the companies don’t continue to market fraudulent products under a different name or on another website.
The FDA advises consumers not to buy or use COVID-19 related products that it hasn't approved, cleared or authorized. There’s no evidence that unapproved products are effective against this virus and they could be harmful. A convenience store owner in New Jersey was arrested for selling her own concoction of a spray sanitizer that burned the skin of four boys who bought it, 44 people in Iran died after consuming alcoholic drinks mixed with methanol that would supposedly protect them from coronavirus, and the World Health Organization has issued their own warnings about other coronavirus-related products.
 
The FTC issued an earlier alert warning about phishing emails purportedly containing information from official sources about coronavirus that could download a computer virus to your device. The Securities and Exchange Commission issued an alert about bogus investment opportunities in companies supposedly developing products that can prevent, detect, or cure coronavirus. 
 
The BBB advises consumers to be savvy about product claims, including ones promoted on social media, and to check with your doctor or other health care professional before buying one. Don't click on attachments or links in emails or social media messages that you aren't absolutely sure are legitimate, or on sensational headlines on the Internet, that could download malware to your computer or phone.
 
Read more about the warning letters at ftc.gov.
Read more BBB advice regarding coronavirus scams at bbb.org/coronavirus.
If you’ve spotted a coronavirus scam (whether or not you’ve lost money), report it at ftc.gov/complaint and to BBB.org/ScamTracker. Your report can help others avoid becoming the victim.
 
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About BBB: BBB is a nonprofit, business-supported organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Most BBB services to consumers are free of charge. BBB provides objective advice, free BBB Business Profiles on more than 5.3 million companies, 11,000 charity reviews, dispute resolution services, alerts and educational information on topics affecting marketplace trust. Visit bbb.org for more information. There are over 100 local, independent BBBs across the United States, Canada and Mexico, including BBB Serving the Mid-South, which was founded in 1948 and serves 28 counties in West Tennessee, North Mississippi and East Arkansas.

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