Weight Loss Website Risks
In today’s world, society is obsessed with being thin. Whether it’s merely a fad or a desire derived from an aspiration to lead healthier lives, many people seek new ways to achieve weight loss. At Allied Wallet, we want to ensure that consumers looking for weight loss services and products online have a secure experience. We help provide everything from safe POS credit card processing and in worst case scenarios, fast refunds. The weight loss culture affects many people and we want you to be wary of the risks it poses, both physical and financial.
Weight Loss Obsession
It’s easy to see why everyone wants to look thin. Workout selfies posted to Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram are incredibly popular and workout gurus seem to be everywhere on social media. Their posts can often make you feel like you’re doing something wrong if you aren’t working out every day.
Additionally, the media constantly sensationalizes weight loss and weight gain, using even the smallest changes to garner speculation and attention. Capitalizing on this media obsession, models and celebrities sign lucrative endorsements to lose weight with certain diet plans and advertise their success. Some famous endorsers—Kirstie Allie, Jessica Simpson, and Jennifer Hudson— can average up to $33,000 for each pound lost. People can be so compelled by their success stories that companies are willing to invest heavily into these campaigns.
Pressure to Fit In
Unfortunately, celebrity success stories are only one part of the weight loss culture. In magazines and on T.V., you’re regularly inundated with advertising and videos featuring “perfect” people. These models and actors often create unrealistic societal expectations, with many people ignorant of the airbrushing and photoshop required to create such perfection.
Making people unrealistically beautiful isn’t harmless fun and they cause skewed expectations about what body it’s possible to attain. Girls as young as three or four are often aware of their weight and in recent years, many children talk about dieting well before puberty. In addition, 97% of adult women, aged 18 through 44, think negative thoughts about their bodies at least once a day. These statistics are shocking, and unfortunately, men aren’t immune from these pressures either. Unsurprisingly, the struggle for perfection has led to financial opportunities for the weight loss, exercise, and beauty industries.
The Health Industry is Huge
Researchers have found that there are over 100 million dieters at any given time in the United States and large companies like Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, SlimFast, and Herbalife, are quick to take advantage. Public company reports show that Herbalife grossed $4.5 billion in 2014 and SlimFast made $196 million in 2010 from desperate dieters.
But the industry isn’t just centered around proven food plans, there are risky cleanses, juices, and detoxes that pull in substantial numbers. Despite the lack of established studies on their safety and effectiveness, people still use these methods to achieve their weight loss dreams. In fact, exercise videos and weight loss supplements alone, rake in about $32 billion a year.
The Health Risks Are Real
We fully support anyone looking to lose weight in a healthy and sustainable way. However, many companies flood the market with synthetic, dangerous cleanses and supplements that have led to an estimated 20,000 ER visits a year. These visits are in addition to those necessitated by the misuse of otherwise healthy products; misuse that leads to unnatural weight loss, bad eating habits, and eating disorders.
While the physical dangers of weight loss supplements are bad enough, visiting weight loss websites poses another threat. There are many instances in which you disclose your personal and financial information online, sometimes to unscrupulous companies willing to use your information to their advantage. Actions that rely on private information range from POS credit card processing to custom diet delivery. Even free apps, like MyFitnessPal and MapMyRun, might need your credit card or other personal details to let you access certain features.
Some Sites Skim More Than Pounds
Potential dieters, especially ones that aren’t comfortable using computers, might find themselves the victims of weight loss website scams. Their methods include hidden or misleading membership fees through POS credit card processing and autopay fees unwittingly agreed to when signing a contract.
When it comes to fad diets and supplements, including green coffee extract and slimming creams, your health is not the only thing at risk. These companies don’t just take your money for faulty or even dangerous products; they steal information through phishing.
Phishing is a type of scam where sensitive personal information like passwords, personal details, and even credit card information, is acquired through manipulation or theft. Scammers will set up websites that capitalize on weight loss trends in an effort to target the curious or the desperate.
To do this, they’ll create fake ads that link web users to their phishing sites. Once on these sites, customers might be led into purchasing a fake product, willingly handing over their information when it comes time for POS credit card processing. Scam ads can be found even on reliable and legitimate sites and are often tailored to your recent search history. They are so prevalent that Google deleted 780 million scam ads in 2015 alone, though many still go undetected. Google has over 1,000 employees whose only focus is the legitimacy of ads.
Malware and Aggressive Scamming
Unfortunately, phishing sites go beyond just requesting your credit card information. They sometimes install malicious software on your computer. If not detected, the software picks up your bank or credit card details during any online POS credit card processing, even if it’s through a secure site. Although they may only succeed once, scammers have already recuperated their cost for setting up an illegitimate site.
Besides malicious browser programs, phishing can be done via phone or email. While this correspondence can appear legitimate, be wary of anyone asking for personal information. Many scammers will claim a payment is due and threaten lawsuits or additional fees if you don’t pay.
Another popular scamming method is the use of spambots. These bots attack your social media profiles, often flooding your Twitter or Instagram feed with ads and messages. It’s hard to block them all and you may click on them by accident. These spambots will comment with dangerous and misleading links for pages with malware installed that will steal your data.
Sometimes these scams are obviously fraudulent, but phishers don’t care. People without the proper computer literacy will fall for them anyway, and unfortunately, these victims are likely to provide more information as times goes on. Sadly, because of the current thin obsession, the scam cycle starts simply because a customer was trying to find a new weight loss product that works.
Online Habits to Cut Out
We wish we could eliminate scammers and spammers once and for all, particularly because their shameful tactics usually harm vulnerable populations. For now, we can provide some tips to protect you and your finances. Here’s what to avoid:
- Private information requests. Sites that ask for private information, especially ones that ask questions you might expect only when setting up a financial account, are dangerous. They might also ask common password verification questions like your mother’s middle name, high school mascot, or pet’s name. You should be especially wary if they ask for this information early in the process, not necessarily at the point of POS credit card processing.
- Threats. If a company threatens you with a lawsuit or additional fees, don’t give in right away. Often, their claims are invalid. Emphasize that you won’t pay and consult a legal resource if possible. It’s important to report possible scams to federal scam bureaus who can prosecute if given enough information. If a company really has a legitimate claim to more money, they will almost always take proper steps like creating monthlong paper trails, before escalating to a lawsuit.
- Unfamiliar links. It might sound obvious, but make certain you know what you’re clicking before you click it. This is especially true for links from new or unverified sources. Hover over the link to see its actual destination and check if it has a bizarre URL. If you’re still unsure, google the URL with the word “scam” to see if it’s a legitimate site. You can also use sites like the Better Business Bureau and Yelp for verification.
- Bad spelling and grammar. Bad spelling and grammar is often a major red flag. Legitimate companies rarely send out emails with poor editing. There are many people who ignore obvious errors and end up victims of identity theft.
- Using the name of a big company. If a phishing scam says they’re affiliated with a bigger company, but doesn’t have the correct email address or other proof of affiliation, then it’s most likely a scam. Scammers can access your recent searches and online activities and use that information to target you. Check the spam folder in your email (without opening the messages) and you’ll see hundreds of fraudulent messages from people claiming to work for recent sites you’ve visited, especially ones with plenty of POS credit card processing like Amazon or eBay.
Keep Your Wallet Fat
If you’re unsure if a company is legitimate, do some research before going through with POS credit card processing. Besides the Better Business Bureau, there are many websites with the intent of listing fraudulent sites, scams, and customer ripoffs.
Legitimate websites will also spend money to protect their customers from fraud. Check out a company’s ‘About Us’ page and look around for what security measures they offer in regards to POS credit card processing. If there aren’t any listed, the references to them are shady, or the images appear generic or pixelated, then this should set off a red flag. Do not shop there!
Some steps we take here at Allied Wallet to ensure security include, PCI-DSS Level 1 certification as well as SHA-256 SSL encryption. As general guidelines, see if sites where you want to spend your money have taken these steps.
Finally, spend your money on time-tested, healthy ways to lose weight. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. A service that capitalizes on a very new weight loss trend has a significantly higher chance of being a scam. This is especially true when a site only offers one fad service.
Let Allied Wallet Help
Education and eCommerce literacy are a big part of what we do here at Allied Wallet. In addition, we also provide a range of helpful services for small and large businesses to protect their customers and safely offer POS credit card processing. We want to protect you from phishing, scamming, and other cybercrimes. Our effective services ensure that your company has the sustainable income to continue operating.
One of our many credit card processing services is our encrypted data payment processing. Encryption is the method of disguising personal financial information during POS credit card processing to protect data from hacking and scamming.
Another service that’s valuable to many of our small business customers, is protection against fraudulent checks and credit cards. Stolen credit and debit cards can cost a company dearly. We take many steps throughout POS credit card processing, like IP verification and communicating with the credit card company itself, to ensure that transactions are legitimate.
Allied Wallet has a worldwide network of happy customers with whom we’ve built a solid relationship. We have over 100 million users worldwide and we help companies accept 164 currencies in over 190 countries. In addition to credit cards, we also establish safe ACH and debit payments for our clients. Contact us to learn more about our services and what they can do to protect merchants and their customers.