Worried about Zika? Watch out for Phony Cures

The Zika virus seems to be sweeping the nation, everyday there is a new report about Zika being discovered. Scam artist are aware of this and plan on taking advantage of this scary situation. Learn about this scam and how to protect yourself, by reading this week's scam alert.
September 09, 2016

Scammers make their living preying on our fears. With the Zika outbreak in Miami, scammers are cashing in on our anxiety about the disease. Don't fall for cons that claim to repel the mosquitos that spread it.

How the Scam Works: 

You hear about a product that can prevent your contacting Zika; you may have seen a friend's post on social media, gotten an email or found a website through search. The promoted products range from wristbands to patches to stickers, and they all claim to repel the mosquitos that carry Zika. 

The product's website may look completely legitimate and have a lot of information, including convincing testimonials. But don't fall for it!  The Federal Trade Commission already issued warnings to online sellers, urging them to remove unsubstantiated claims about the products. When purchasing, be skeptical of any too-good-to-be-true claims and look for EPA-approved products. This is also unlikely to be the end of Zika-related cons. Judging from past experience, fake cures and other cons preying on health fears are sure to pop up again… if not about Zika than about another disease.

How to Spot a Quack Cure: 

Spot a fraudulent health product by watching out for these red flags:

  • One product does it all... instantly. Be suspicious of products that claim to immediately cure a wide range of diseases. No one product could be effective against a long, varied list of conditions or diseases.
  • Personal testimonials instead of scientific evidence. Success stories are easy to make up and are not a substitute for scientific evidence.
  • It's "all natural." Just because it's natural does not mean it's good for you. All natural does not mean the same thing as safe. 
  • The medicine is a "miracle cure." If a real cure for a serious disease were discovered, it would be widely reported through the news media and prescribed by health professionals - not buried in print ads, social media ads, or on websites.
  • Conspiracy theories. These statements are used to distract consumers from the obvious, common-sense questions about the so-called miracle cure.
  • Check with your doctor: If you're tempted to buy an unproven product or one with questionable claims, check with your doctor or other health care professional first.

For More Information

Learn more about finding a legitimate option to protect yourself against Zika and mosquitos in this article. For advice on protecting your family from mosquitos, check out this piece from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

To learn more about scams or to report a scam, go to BBB Scam Tracker (bbb.org/scamtracker).