Many of you may be familiar with Lumosity, a brain training program sold by Lumos Labs that has extensively advertised throughout the media its brain games that it said could target and train specific areas of the brain and improve cognitive performance as well as protect the brain from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. According to their advertising, which included customer testimonials, merely using the games for ten or fifteen minutes, just three or four times a week could help users achieve their “full potential in every aspect of life.” It sounds pretty good. In fact, it sounds too good. Unfortunately, according to Jessica Rich of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), “Lumosity simply did not have the science to back up the ads.” Rich went on to say “Lumosity preyed on consumers’ fears about age-related cognitive decline, suggesting their games could stave off memory loss, dementia and even Alzheimer’s disease.” As for the testimonial raves from satisfied customers, Lumosity failed to disclose that many of those were from people who had been offered potential prizes for their comments.
As a result of the deceptive advertising, the FTC brought charges against Lumos Labs, the maker of Lumosity and earlier this week, the case was settled with Lumos Labs agreeing to change its advertising as well as pay two million dollars to the FTC to be refunded to affected customers who purchased Lumosity products between January 1, 2009 and December 31, 2015. Lumosity is also required to notify affected customers of their options for refunds and to cancel subscriptions.
This case serves as another reminder that it is always a dangerous practice to rely on advertising to evaluate the effectiveness of products related to health care. It is always a good practice to both do your own research as well as check with your own doctor before spending money for any health care product including weight loss plans and, as here, brain training products. If you were a purchaser of Lumosity products during the indicated dates, you should be receiving a letter from Lumos Labs about how to cancel ongoing subscriptions as well as claim your share of the two million dollar fine. I will also report on how to get your refund when the FTC develops the refund program.