How can I spot online health scams?

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
Be Wary of Celebrity Endorsements Famous people, especially well-known medical experts, are powerful sales generators, so unscrupulous business people often use celebrity likenesses to sell

Be Mindful of Miracle Cures Any company that makes extravagant claims is selling hype not hope.

Don't Buy into Bogus Blogs When individuals share their health stories online, they can help millions of others facing the same challenges. Advertisers know this and create fake blogs that appear to be personal stories, but instead are just marketing tools. Another common tactic is to emulate news sites with articles that extol the virtues of a particular product. Be suspicious if only one solution is being recommended by any site.

Don't Trust Trial Periods If the product is as good as it says, there should be no rush to buy it. Any site asking to you "act now" or warning that there's a "limited quantity," is trying to get you to buy now and think later. Trial periods are often rigged so that it's almost impossible for you to get out of the agreement before they end, leaving you open to additional charges.

Don't Trust "Testiphonials" Look for product  endorsements supposedly written by real people. If you notice that all of the comments are grouped around the same date and there's no way for you to add comments, that's a giveaway that the creators of the site put them up.

Read The Fine Print (No, really) Most of us accept terms and conditions online all the time without actual reading what we're agreeing to. But when you're buying a product online, it's critical, especially when the site creator has made them hard to read by putting them in tiny type or in a color that blends with the  background. You may think you're only paying $2.95 for shipping and handling, but you're actually agreeing to sign up for a membership. If you don't cancel in time, you'll be charged much more than $2.95. Look for a clearly stated company name and address. If they have nothing to hide, it shouldn't be hidden.

Look for the Seal of Approval Supplements that carry the seal of the United States Pharmacopeia (USP) have been tested and verified for quality, purity, and potency.

Do Your Own Research Check company and website names with the Better Business Bureau.
This content originally appeared on

Continue Learning about Healthcare Basics

Ask Dr. Darria
Ask Dr. Darria
You can find all the articles here by Darria Long Gillespie, MD, Executive Vice President, Clinical Strategy at Sharecare and an emergency room doctor...
Read More
How can I find reliable health information?
Sheri D. PruittSheri D. Pruitt
The number of books, magazines, reports, and Internet sources on health is overwhelming. No one ...
More Answers
When is urgent care best?
A primary care relationship offers just that, a relationship. But the real value is monitoring healt...
More Answers
How Will Modern Healthcare Providers Manage the Big Data Created by Mobile Sensors?
How Will Modern Healthcare Providers Manage the Big Data Created by Mobile Sensors?

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.