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Federal Trade Commission Issues Consumer Warning

Worried about getting sick with COVID-19 or making ends meet because of a pandemic-related job loss? You may see social media posts offering an answer. Some posts advertise products that they say can prevent or treat COVID-19. Others offer the chance to join a multi-level marketing company (MLM) and make lots of money selling the products to people you know. But, before declaring your worries are over, read on to learn about the problems with these pitches.

Consumer alert 2Today, the FTC sent warning letters to six MLMs. The letters tell them to immediately stop their distributors from telling people their products can treat or prevent COVID-19, that they’re likely to make significant money if they join the MLM, or both. The FTC says these claims violate truth-in-advertising laws.

The letters are the second set of warning letters relating to COVID-19 that the FTC has issued to MLMs. They require the companies to notify the FTC within 48 hours of the specific actions they have taken to address the agency’s concerns.

According to the FTC, the MLMs’ distributors posted unsupported health and earnings claims on social media sites, with two of the companies posting their ads in Spanish. And, the FTC says, at least one company posted unsupported claims on its own website.

The health-related messages included:

  • “With these, your body will be able to withstand and eliminate Covid-19 and the vaccines forthcoming for Covid-19. Also get your Rebound FX – Stay Safe. #youngevity #flattenthecurve #covid19 #coronavirus”
  • “#VIRUS_CORONA Worried? I’ve been boosting my immune system for several years with high-quality Plexus supplements. You can too! #Plexus provides excellent all-natural supplements that truly work. Be sensible –not fearful. Scientifically formulated & doctor-approved! Ask me!”

The earnings claims included:

  • “Will you get a stimulus check? . . . [W]ould a extra $4,100 change your family lifestyle? Well my firm is offering that and more . . . Text Isagenix to [5 digit SMS text number]”
  • A video promoting The Juice Plus Company that contained the statement, “There are a lot of people out there who have lost income . . . . You may want to build a side income, you know, make $500 a month, $1,000 a month or more. There’s no ceiling on this. It’s whatever you want it to be.”

If you’re thinking about joining an MLM, get the details. Start by searching online for the name of the company and words like review, scam, or complaint. Be skeptical of claims that you can earn life-changing income by participating in the program. Most people who join MLMs make little or no money. And, if promoters emphasize recruiting as the real way to make money, walk away.

Visit Multi-Level Marketing Businesses and Pyramid Schemes for more tips about deciding whether an MLM company is right for you.

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