The Federal Trade Commission sent a warning letter to a marketer of hearing aids, telling the company to stop advertising that it could provide COVID-19 relief funds for the purchase of hearing aids.
In print and social media advertising, the FTC charged that Elite Hearing Centers of America made claims such as:
- "COVID-19 HEARING HEALTHCARE STIMULUS PROGRAM through July 31";
- “Receive up to $3000 through our healthcare stimulus program";
- "Thousands have already been helped in your area"; and
- "Free hearing aids."
The FTC also pointed to the fact that Elite Hearing Aid Centers of America's advertising used the Great Seal of the United States to promote stimulus relief to current and retired government employees. (If you're looking for the FTC to come after you for falsely suggesting government endorsement, just use the Great Seal . . . .)
The FTC told the company to stop making these claims in light of the fact that the CARES Act does not provide payments specifically for hearing aids and the fact that Elite Hearing Aid Centers of America is not authorized to provide any relief under the CARES Act. The FTC told the company to notify the FTC within 48 hours of the steps that it has taken to address the FTC concerns.
While the FTC has already sent hundreds of warning letters telling marketers to stop making false health claims related to COVID-19, recently the FTC has also been reaching out to marketers -- including other hearing aid marketers and a marketing agency -- who the FTC alleges are falsely claiming to be able to provide COVID-19 financial relief.