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“Doctor Trusted” couldn’t be trusted

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Do you ever shop online for health products, like dietary supplements? Maybe you’ve seen various seals and certificates on sites you visit — showing that a site is secure, or that products on the site have been tested and evaluated. You’d think you could trust those seals and certificates — but unfortunately, that’s not always the case.

The FTC recently announced a settlement with SmartClick Media, a company that sold deceptive “Doctor Trusted” health seals to over 800 websites.

Example of Doctor Trusted seal

When people clicked on the seal, they were told products were “carefully evaluated by an independent medical doctor,” and the website was making “reasonable science-based health claims.” In reality, the seals were meaningless, according to the FTC. The agency found that two doctors were paid to quickly review the sites, but they didn’t evaluate any of the products for safety or effectiveness.

That wasn’t SmartClick Media’s only deception, the FTC says. The company also misled people by promoting its own site, betterlivingjournal.org, as an independent blog with unbiased advice on health products. But it was really just a bunch of ads for health products in disguise. And SmartClick Media made money from people clicking on or buying from the site.

So what’s the takeaway? Don’t rely on a seal or a lifestyle blog alone when making decisions about whether to trust the quality and safety of health products. Do some research, and ask your doctor before taking dietary supplements that you find online — or in a store.

Comments

Always thought the seal was legit. Bummer!

Thank you for monitoring this issue, unfortunately well meaning people had to be taken advantage of before the rest of us consumers could be alerted. A list of what seals to trust would be helpful., especially since people could potentially be harmed, even seriously. Thank you to the people who took time to file complaints and for the FTC for investigating these complaints

Just asked for a refund from a website that every email was an ad for another expensive product. It was supposed to be for weight loss but turned out was another scam to separate me from my money.

I consider myself an educated consumer. I'm even a retired computer professional. I know to check out companies with "review" and "scam" attached, but I never thought to run the name of one of those Internet seals thru the same process. I just did a search today on "doctor trusted". What a huge list of negative stuff listed on my search; I'm shocked. I learned a valuable lesson today.

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