With ongoing concerns about COVID-19 and Idaho’s sharp increase in cases, Attorney General Lawrence Wasden is warning residents to use caution when shopping for healthcare products online.
Some sellers falsely claim that colloidal silver, essential oils, supplements, and immunity-boosting therapies can prevent COVID-19 infections or treat other health conditions that pose a risk to consumers’ health.
“My office has contacted several sellers in the past eight months about their deceptive and unsubstantiated health claims,” Wasden said. “Ads for fake coronavirus cures are particularly troubling and should be reported to my office.”
The Better Business Bureau says some of the sellers will use conspiracy theories to attract buyers.
"A lot of times, these products or claims will touch on conspiracy theories and one email in particular that we have reports on claims that it's a breakthrough product and the government is keeping it super secretive and only a few people can know about it and that you have special access and you need to act now," said Rebecca Barr of the BBB.
Idahoans may file complaints with the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division if they see deceptive health claims or lose money because of a business’s deceptive practices. As attorney general, Wasden enforces a number of Idaho’s consumer protection laws and offers an informal dispute resolution service to help consumers and businesses cooperatively resolve their disputes.
An online complaint form and information about the dispute resolution process are available here.
“My office relies on consumers to report instances of unfair, deceptive, and misleading business practices,” Wasden added. “Information about these activities helps us better understand the problems Idahoans are experiencing in the marketplace and determine where best to focus enforcement resources.”
The Consumer Protection Division sends complaints alleging violations of Idaho’s civil consumer protection laws to businesses in Idaho and other states and requests businesses respond in writing. For the dispute resolution process to work, consumers and businesses must commit to reaching an amicable solution. The attorney general cannot force the parties to resolve their differences. In most instances, though, this informal dispute resolution process works to benefit both consumers and businesses.