June 9, 2014 — OTTAWA, ON — Competition Bureau
The Competition Bureau is warning consumers to be wary of weight loss products promoted through social media sites that are marketed as a "quick-fix" to those wishing to get in shape for summer.
Users of social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, may be exposed to weight loss scams from "friends" or followers whose social media activity is limited to only sharing information on the weight loss scam.
Common features of recent weight loss scams promoted via social media include:
- Fake or doctored before and after pictures of consumers who have used the product;
- Status updates that focus on dubious weight loss struggles and triumphs; and
- Fraudulent profiles that contain elements to establish trust, such as personal photos of a consumer’s pets.
Unlike traditional forms of advertising, users of social media may inadvertently promote these scams by liking, tweeting or pinning links or information about these products. Scammers may add information to a consumer’s post, making it look like the consumer endorses the product or company.
Scams promoted through social media may look more credible because they appear in the same place as content created by a consumer’s friends or family. The Bureau encourages consumers to be skeptical about posts from friends or followers on social media and to question why they are promoting it and to research the source.
Businesses and consumers who believe they have been scammed or misled should contact the Bureau's Information Centre at 1-800-348-5358, or visit the Bureau's website at www.competitionbureau.gc.ca to file a complaint. Businesses and consumers can also contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501, or visit its website at www.antifraudcentre.ca.
- Offers that seem “too good to be true” are often just that.
- Be vigilant when evaluating ads, whether for a job, a product or a service offered online, on social media platforms, over the phone or in print.
- Before sending money or giving credit card or bank account details, be sure you understand what you are agreeing to and who you are sending money to.
- Research the company, the individuals, the product or the offer, and verify any contact and company details.
- A "free" game, app or trial offer that requires a credit card number can lead to charges you did not expect — if finding and understanding the terms and conditions is difficult, think twice.
- Learn how to protect yourself from fraud and scams in The Canadian Edition of the Little Black Book of Scams
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The Competition Bureau, as an independent law enforcement agency, ensures that Canadian businesses and consumers prosper in a competitive and innovative marketplace.