| FTC Warns Advertisers and
Media That Ads May Be Deceptive
Results of Surf with 60 Partners
Searching Print, Internet,
Radio, and TV for Deceptive Advertising Targeting Hispanics
The Federal Trade Commission has sent letters to 166 advertisers
and 77 media outlets warning them that their advertisements targeting
Hispanics are potentially deceptive.
The ads were spotted during a one-day surf of Spanish-language
newspaper, magazine, Internet, radio, and television advertisements
by 60 partners around the United States and Latin America, coordinated
by the FTC.
“This snapshot reveals that the Hispanic community is bombarded
with ads offering false information and often false hope for disease
cures or a better lifestyle,” said Chairman Deborah Platt
Majoras at the New York City Hispanic Fraud Prevention Forum.
“Together with our partners, we can shine a spotlight on
these frauds and work to put an end to them.”
On April 19, individuals from across the United States and in
five Latin American countries participated in the Hispanic Multi-Media
Surf. The participants focused on identifying potentially deceptive
ads aimed at Hispanics in three areas: health, credit, and business
Of the potentially deceptive ads found by participants during
the surf, over half were health-related, and made dubious claims
for weight loss products and “disease cures.”
The ads claimed treatments and cures for serious diseases, most
often diabetes and cancer. More than half of the weight-loss ads
contained false “red flag” claims that cannot be supported,
according to the FTC.
Work-at-home and business opportunity ads with questionable claims
represented the second most common type of ads found during the
surf. Some advertised get rich quick schemes for at-home craft
assembly and envelope stuffing. Many made extravagant earnings
claims that the FTC has found few, if any, consumers ever achieve.
Participants also found credit-related ads offering credit repair
and guaranteed credit, among other services.
One hundred sixty seven individuals took part in the surf, including
staff at the Food and Drug Administration, United States Postal
Inspection Service, and Better Business Bureaus, as well as state
Attorneys General offices, state and local consumer protection
agencies, community-based groups, and university students, among
others. Consumer protection agencies in Colombia, Costa Rica,
Mexico, Nicaragua, and Panama also took part in the effort.
The FTC sent letters to 166 advertisers informing them that their
ad claims may be in violation of the law, and urged them to review
their advertising and promotional materials. The letters also
strongly recommend that they review business and consumer education
materials on the FTC’s Web site to learn more about relevant
laws and requirements. The letters to 77 media outlets advise
them that they are running potentially deceptive advertising and
offers advice to assist them in screening out advertisements that
contain questionable claims.
In addition to the letters, the FTC forwarded Internet ads to
10 international law enforcement partners. Those agencies can
review the ads, which originated in their country, and take action
as appropriate. The surf also provided law enforcement targets
for several cases announced today by the FTC at the Hispanic Law
Enforcement Forum in New York City.
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