Scamwatch: health supplement warning

Don't be taken in by dodgy healthcare companies.

Scamwatch: health supplement warning

Stay one step ahead of the fraudsters with our series of articles giving you the lowdown on the scams they use to trick people out of their hard-earned cash - and how to avoid being taken in by them.

This week, we investigate bogus health supplements sold over the phone and online.

How does it work?

The charity Age UK has issued a scam warning about healthcare companies targeting older Britons.

The warning comes after London-based Souza Healthcare Ltd was wound up by the High Court, following an investigation into its inaccurate claims and unsavoury sales techniques.

According to Age UK, Souza's sales representatives made lengthy unsolicited telesales calls in which they made inaccurate claims about the health benefits and pain reduction qualities of the company's health supplements.

In some cases, the callers also falsely implied that they had medical experience and claimed to be calling on behalf of medical organisations.

The High Court's decision means Souza joins a long list of companies that have been wound up after targeting the elderly and unwell with products including mobility scooters, hearing aids, and home alarm systems.

How can I avoid being caught out?

As with many scams, the key here is to avoid any health supplements that seem to good to be true.

If, for example, you are called by a company claiming that its products will change your life, you can be pretty sure that they are at the very least exaggerating the benefits.

Ways to protect yourself from being taken in by scammers include treating any unsolicited calls or emails with suspicion and checking up on a company before making a purchase.

Age UK said: "Before you commit to buying, check the seller. Does the company have a contact number that works and a postal address, and is it a member of a trade association?"

I've been defrauded. What should I do?

There is no shame in reporting that you have been tricked by sophisticated fraudsters.

Age UK said: "Anyone can be taken in by a scam, so don't feel embarrassed or ashamed if it happens to you."

In fact, the best way to stop dodgy health supplement companies is to report them to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.