FTC & FDA: Warnings sent to sellers of scam Coronavirus treatments
March 9, 2020
by Colleen Tressler
Consumer Education Specialist, FTC
Be on the lookout for scammers taking advantage of fears surrounding the Coronavirus. Today, we have an update.
The FTC and FDA have jointly issued warning letters to seven sellers of unapproved and misbranded products, claiming they can treat or prevent the Coronavirus. The companies’ products include teas, essential oils, and colloidal silver. The FTC says the companies have no evidence to back up their claims — as required by law. The FDA says there are no approved vaccines, drugs or investigational products currently available to treat or prevent the virus.
The seven companies are:
• Vital Silver
• Aromatherapy Ltd.
• GuruNanda, LLC
• Vivify Holistic Clinic
• Herbal Amy LLC
• The Jim Bakker Show
In part, the letters require the companies to notify the FTC within 48 hours of the specific actions they have taken to address the agency’s concerns. The FTC and FDA will follow up with companies that fail to make adequate corrections. Both agencies also will continue to monitor social media, online marketplaces and incoming complaints to help ensure that the companies do not continue to market fraudulent products under a different name or on another website.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says your best defense against the Coronavirus is to:
• Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
• Avoid touching your face, especially your eyes, nose and mouth, with unwashed hands.
• Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
• Stay home when you’re sick.
• Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
• Clean and disinfect frequently touched items and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
• Follow CDC’s recommendations for using a facemask.
o CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.
o Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others. The use of facemasks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a health care facility).
• Stay informed. To learn more about the coronavirus, visit the CDC’s FAQ page. Visit the FDA to learn about the development and approval of treatments for coronavirus.
If you’re tempted to buy an unproven product or one with questionable claims, check with your doctor or other health care professional first.
Want more information on the latest scams we’re seeing? Sign up for our consumer alerts. See a product claiming to treat, cure or prevent Coronavirus? Report it to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint.