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BBB Tip of the Week: False health claims

The Federal Trade Commission reached a $5.5 million settlement with Iovate Health Sciences U.S.A. after filing charges against the company for false health claims about its dietary supplements.

Iovate misled consumers with advertisements that its products caused weight loss and prevented colds, flu and allergies. The dietary supplements falsely advertised to prevent illnesses and allergies include: Cold MD, Germ MD and Allergy MD.

Accelis and nanoSLIM are the supplements that Iovate deceptively claimed to cause weight loss.

The monetary settlement will go toward consumer refunds. To qualify, you have to have purchased any of these dietary supplements from January 2006 to July 2010. Consumers who received a settlement from the California class-action lawsuit involving Cold MD are not eligible to receive payment for a second time. To receive a refund, file your claim by April 1 online at or request a claim form to be mailed to you by calling (877) 576-9978.

For some consumers, herbal supplements can cause more harm than good. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issues alerts of harmful dietary supplements at Supplements/Alerts. If you are considering taking dietary supplements, the FTC warns you to talk to your doctor first. Here are some deceptive advertising schemes alerting you to possible fraud for dietary supplements:

• Claim of a cure-all single product.

• Claim of treatment or cure of a single disease that is usually serious or complicated.

• Fake claims of prize-winning technology or science.

• Undocumented testimonials of miracle results by doctors or patients.

If you’ve encountered deceptive business practices, you can file a claim with the FTC at or by calling (877) 382-4357. To file a complaint or check out a business, website or charitable organization, you can contact the Better Business Bureau at or by calling (509) 455-4200.

Erin T. Dodge, BBB editor