Don’t let weight loss scams ruin your resolve this New Year

10 January 2014

SCAMwatch is warning consumers to beware of weight loss scams when looking to fulfil a new year’s resolution.

Scammers take advantage of people’s good intentions to improve their health in the new year by peddling fast and easy weight loss schemes. These schemes often come with claims that you can achieve amazing results with minimal effort, such as 'lose 30 kilos in 30 days' or 'lose weight while you sleep’, usually accompanied by bogus before-and-after pictures. They typically involve an unusual or restrictive diet, revolutionary exercise, ‘fat-busting’ device, or products such as pills, patches or creams.

Weight loss scams often involve people signing up to a free trial of a weight loss product, only to find out later that they’ve been signed up to a hidden and costly subscription to the scheme. When they try to cancel the subscription, they can’t reach anyone.

Get-thin-quick schemes lack any scientific evidence or demonstrated links between the product or program and the result. What’s more, these schemes can have serious consequences on your health, particularly if they involve shoddy medicines, supplements or other treatments.

If you’re seeking to lose weight this year, remember these two golden rules:

1. Always check first with a health care professional if you’re thinking of making a radical change to your diet or fitness regime.
2. Don’t be tricked by offers for fast and easy results – if you do, the only place you will feel lighter is your wallet.

How the scam works

  • You come across an offer online, on TV or in the mail about a weight loss program, food, supplement, gadget or process.
  • The weight loss scheme is advertised with claims that it can produce amazing results quickly and with minimal effort. Examples of weight loss scam claims include ‘guaranteed’ or ‘miracle’ results, ‘lost 30 kilos in 30 days’, or even ‘lose weight while you sleep’.
  • The advertisement might also come with testimonials and before-and-after pictures from happy customers of the scheme that claim dramatic results.
  • These weight loss schemes often come at a hefty price. You may be asked to pay a large up-front fee to receive the product. Alternatively, you may initially sign up to a ‘free’ trial period, only to later find out that you have been signed up to a hidden and costly long-term subscription.
  • If you pay or sign up to a weight loss scam, all you will lose this New Year is your money.

Protect yourself

  • Remember - there are no magic pills for rapid weight loss. Speak with your GP about healthy and safe weight loss options.
  • Always get independent advice if an offer involves significant money, time or commitment.
  • Read all the terms and conditions of any offer very carefully: claims of free or very cheap offers often have hidden costs.
  • Watch out – scammers use all the tricks in the book to convince you that their offers are the real deal, including creating slick-looking ads complete with bogus pictures and testimonials.
  • If you think you’re being charged costs for a subscription you didn’t sign up to, contact you bank or financial institution immediately.

Report

You can report scams to the ACCC via the report a scam page on SCAMwatch or by calling 1300 795 995.

More information

Stay one step ahead of scammers, follow @SCAMwatch_gov on Twitter or visit http://twitter.com/SCAMwatch_gov.

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