Screening Tips | Spot
the Fake (coming soon!)
or station wants to print or air false weight loss claims. The best way
to avoid running false advertising is to use common sense. The best
defensive weapon in your arsenal is your gut instinct that a particular
ad promises more than it could possibly deliver. You can spot false
claims for weight loss in the same way you probably already screen
ads for taste and appropriateness. Read the ad before you publish
it, and Red Flag ads for nonprescription
drugs, dietary supplements, skin patches, creams, wraps, earrings,
or other products that are worn on the body or rubbed into the skin if
they make any of the following claims:
- Cause weight loss of two pounds or more a week for
a month or more without dieting or exercise
- Cause substantial weight loss no matter what or how
much the consumer eats
- Cause permanent weight loss (even when the consumer
stops using product)
- Block the absorption of fat or calories to enable
consumers to lose substantial weight
- Safely enable consumers to lose more than three pounds
per week for more than four weeks
- Cause substantial weight loss for all users
- Cause substantial weight loss by wearing it on the
body or rubbing it into the skin
In addition, below
are some general tips on how
to screen ads effectively and particular tip-offs -buzz
words or techniques - to help you identify some
of the most common fraudulent weight loss ads.
By learning to spot the tell-tale signs of fraudulent advertising, you can protect your customers,
your bottom line, your reputation, and the good name of your
Advertising Screening Tips
- If an advertiser refuses to answer your questions or to
make changes in the ad, it may be a tip-off to a deception. You have the right to reject
an ad for any reason.
- Don't let your guard down around deadline time.
Fraudulent advertisers know when you're at your busiest and may try to slip one past you
at the last minute.
- If an ad is unclear to you, it will be unclear to your readers,
listeners or viewers. If you don't know the nature of the product or service
offered, ask the advertiser for clarification. Your request for information may deter some
unscrupulous advertisers and may help legitimate businesses clarify any unintended
vagaries before an ad is disseminated to their customers (and yours).
- Is the copy outlandish? Are
the claims too good to be true? Perhaps the advertiser's creative team
a refresher on the "rules of the
- Verify the integrity, stability and
performance of new
advertisers, especially when they make an unusually large media
buy. Scam artists are in it for the short term. Once they've made a
quick buck, they often skip town, leaving
dissatisfied customers and unpaid bills in their wake. So check
out the credit. Check out the source.
- Check out the fine print. Dense
blocks of tiny text and fleeting TV supers aren't just annoying - they
may be illegal. The law requires
disclosures and disclaimers to be "clear and conspicuous." That
means big enough for consumers to read and understand.
- Watch out for the asterisks and footnotes. A disclosure
at the bottom of a page won't cure an otherwise deceptive ad.
- Ads with glowing consumer testimonials,
sometimes be a tip-off to deception. This can be true for before-and-after
- Get the street address and telephone number of
every advertiser. In many cities - New York, for example - a post office box number must be
accompanied by a street address. If the company is small, get the home address and
telephone number of the principal.
- Be wary of an advertiser who pays you with a bounced check.
Even if they come up with the cash later, it may signal a disregard for ethical business
practices. At the same time, just because the check clears doesn't mean the company is