Diabetes Scams to Avoid

By DeanaG Latest Reply 2012-06-07 21:18:39 -0500
Started 2012-06-05 17:41:20 -0500

Diabetes Scams to Avoid
Protect Yourself with Knowledge
By Elizabeth Woolley, About.com Guide

Diabetes is a disease that can cause you to have feelings of desperation and hopelessness. Unfortunately, there are people who would like to profit and take advantage of those feelings. Here is a list of some common diabetes scams, how to be smart, and what to look for to protect your pocket book as well as your health. If you know someone with diabetes who is not internet savvy, print out a copy of this information to help them know what to look out for.

The internet is a great resource for research, community, and information about living with diabetes. However, it can also open the door for people who would like to take advantage of you. Scams can be found on websites, through email, on social networks, and forums. The internet can also make it possible for others to reach you offline through postal mail and phone solicitations.

We all hope to find a cure or perhaps discover a hidden miracle treatment. Some herbal or alternative remedies might actually help, but they are often not well-researched. Without that research there is not enough knowledge to make good dosage recommendations. We all have different circumstances, physiology, and lifestyles. What might work for one person might not work for you. Furthermore, without good study there is not a lot of knowledge about any possible harmful effects, both immediate and long-term. People who are trying to scam you might rely heavily on personal stories, mention studies that have not appeared in reputable publications, or try to blind you with slick salesmanship.

What Scammers Are After

Most scammers are after your money, social security number, Medicare number, financial information or a combination of these things. Also keep in mind that if they obtain your email address, you open up another way people with dishonest intentions can try to contact you.

Red Flags for Diabetes Scams

How the product is presented. Be careful if the website or advertisement shares characteristics with an old-time snake oil salesman or a modern-day infomercial. Look for websites that make outrageous claims, have miraculous testimonials, lack hard facts, and have paths that lead to aggressive ordering prompts or ask you to enter personal information.
No reputable, verifiable research. If there are references to studies or research, do they give detailed information? Can you find more information and verify the claims made? Make sure the information comes from peer-reviewed journals or respected organizations.
Prompts to act now. You may be encouraged to act now or the product or service will increase in price, and you will miss out on a once-in-a-lifetime deal. There may also be scare tactics employed that make you believe that your health will be worsened or doomed if you do not purchase immediately.
Money is asked for up front before you get any real information. The site or advertisement may be all claims and no real solid information. Perhaps the product and how it works is shrouded in mystery. If you are asked to pay in order to receive more information, that is a good clue that it is a scam.
Too much interest in your personal information. If you are asked to give your personal information, especially before ordering or in exchange for special deals or freebies, be suspicious. Newsletters or informative emails may be offered, but these may allow scammers to get your email address and sell it to someone who wants contact information for people with diabetes.
The product is too good to be true. If the product is so good, why hasn't news spread like wildfire? If the product really works as claimed, they should be getting a lot of free word-of-mouth advertising. Do some research on the product outside of their website. While doing this, keep in mind that it is quite common for monetary incentives to be offered to others to sell the product or service. If you research and find testimonials, look to see if they are offering links to buy the product. Look for a link to an "affiliate program" on the product website. Often this can be found in the small links on the bottom of the page.
Mistrust is sold. Breeding mistrust of doctors and the government is a good way to feign credibility when your product or service isn't well known or lacks good research. Most of us already have a healthy dose or mistrust and cynicism and we don't need someone else trying to use that to their advantage.

Common Diabetes Scams

Bottled or packaged diabetes cures. These can come in the form of pills, vitamin or mineral supplements, food products, and drinks.

Natural or alternative treatments. These can include cinnamon pills and herbal teas to magnets. There are fantastic alternative and integrative medicine doctors today, but be smart and do your research especially if you are buying an unproven product or service from a website or you don't know anyone reputable who can vouch for them.

Cures in a book.
Remember there is not currently a cure for diabetes. While many of these books offer great information that could help with your diabetes management, do not let the claim of a cure persuade you to spend money you cannot afford to spend. The author might offer products or services to enhance their program, check to see if they are asking for more than the purchase price of the book.

Phone scams.
Beware if someone calls you offering free or very low-cost supplies or medications. They may say they are from a reputable diabetes company or government entity, but how can you know for sure? It is not hard for someone to lie and misrepresent themselves when the goal is to con you. If you do actually receive any supplies, they may be very low quality or counterfeit. In addition, you may later be faced with the headache of receiving supplies you did not order and erroneous billing. Hang up if they ask for Medicare numbers in exchange for free supplies or other products. In fact, the federal government recommends hanging up on these calls altogether.

Email scams:
Email scams are getting more convincing and clever. The emails can look professional and appear to come from reputable entities or websites you deal with regularly. They might warn that you need to fix something on your account immediately or your service will be terminated. The email might appear to reference an order, delivery, or bank transaction carried out in your name. It could also look like a personal email from someone wanting to share a miracle cure or product. The email will likely provide a link for you to get more information, fix the problem, or log into your account. The link may lead to a fake login page therefore exposing your login information. Clicking a link in the email might also lead to a virus, malware, or spyware being installed on your computer. Don't be fooled into clicking a link if the web address is one you trust. There are ways to hide a fraudulent web address. If you are worried about your account, open up your browser and access the site as you usually do.

Quick Takeaway Tips

Protect your social security number, Medicare number, and financial information. Your social security number could be used for identity theft and your Medicare number for someone else to get medical care under your name.
Be wary of providing your email address to a website that is not well known and respected.
Check your Medicare billings and notices. Look for items you did not order and for multiple billings.
Send back or refuse delivery of items you did not order. Take note of the date and the sender's name and notify your health care provider and the Office of the Inspector General if you suspect a scam.

If you Suspect Fraud

Go to the Office of Inspector General website to report fraud. You can report online, by phone, fax, TTY, and mail.

14 replies

Just Joyce
Just Joyce 2012-06-07 21:01:03 -0500 Report

The key is never give your information to get information from people you don't know. Most people scamming via telephones will ask to verify your information. I always ask for the information they have and many hang up because they know you are on to them.

I never believe every article I read on the internet and wikipedia is the worse source for information. Anyone can upload onto that site and the information is almost never confirmed as factual.

Anyone can write an article and add MD, RN, PhD with their name Try to find out information on the person writing the article. If you doubt the source, doubt the information. Finally if you really want to confirm the article, look for the book or magazine where the article was suppose to have been taken from.

Finally remember the IRS and the Post Office will never email you. Don't open those emails. The biggest scam right now is email from the Post Office telling you that you have a package. How would the post office know your email address. If you have a package the post office will leave a notice in your mail box. Do not open those kinds of emails they are phishing for your information.

jayabee52 2012-06-07 21:18:39 -0500 Report

there are also scam emails which claims a you have a UPS or DHL package waiting for you, and I was at one time waiting for a replacement cell phone from Sprint and so I clicked the link. It downloaded a malware program which wanted to sell you a fix for all the malware it said you had on your computer. I signed off of the computer when that happened and the malware went away when I logged back on.

Controlled 2012-06-05 20:16:16 -0500 Report

Interesting article. Like most of us, I spend a considerable amount of time researching health related information. I have become familiar with a number of sources that I think are reliable. There are ceaseless "you can reverse/cure diabetes with something already in your kitchen cabinet" advertisements. I remember when I was first diagnosed, I was so confused and overwhelmed that I probably would have signed onto any site that offered what was alleged to be information.

There are frequently people on this site who are newly diagnosed and I'm sure they are the target audience for ads and claims of this nature and, hopefully, they read comments on this site and, also hopefully, learn from what works for us and some of our mistakes.

It's disappointing that profiteering takes place to vulnerable people; but it's not just health conditions. The internet has fixes for everything from divorces to financial cures and everything else in between. When all is said and done, "caveat emptor", let the buyer beware.

Just Joyce
Just Joyce 2012-06-07 21:02:38 -0500 Report

Controlled, I did a lot of research on line for papers I wrote while in school. I can usually spot fake articles. If you see web sites offering free products, all they do is take you from one website to another. I learned that the hard way but thankfully I was in the library when I found that out.

jayabee52 2012-06-05 19:12:03 -0500 Report

Great artiicle Deana!

There is another source of POTENTIAL scammers not mentioned in this article: People who come on diabetes websites recruiting for "research studies", (especially if they are offering a lot of money). That money is bait to get folks to give up contact information (phone #, email address, mailing address, ect).

At the time I am posting this, a research study is recruiting on this site. It is not clear as yet if they've passed muster with Alliance Health administrators, and so I will not be taking the bait and enrolling in the "study" until there is word one way or the other from Alliance administrators.

DeanaG 2012-06-05 19:25:10 -0500 Report

I saw that post also. I won't be biting either. ;-)

jayabee52 2012-06-05 19:56:12 -0500 Report

I don't know if what i posted there had any effect on members here on DC, but I tried to suggest to the Poster that they needed to contact Allliance and get an administrator on the discussion to let us know if these folks are OK or not. What is more I red-flagged it and also inboxed some of the administrators about the discussion. Haven't yet heard back.

jayabee52 2012-06-06 18:29:35 -0500 Report

yes I noted the post was deleted for violating the TOU this morning. I had emailed several of the admins, and i guess this group was as I had feared.

Next Discussion: I just want to cry »