Saturday, June 2, 2012

Disability Scams

School's out for summer. That means families have a little more time to spend together. Concerned parents will encourage their children to read and participate in other activities that help their children get ready for the next academic year.

Unfortunately, that means the scammers who are out to make a buck rather than help children are out in force. 

Every year I hear from parents who have been sucked into one type of "get smart quick" scheme or another. They often spend thousands of dollars in misguided attempts to improve the intellectual abilities of their young ones. 

I've seen parents who've spent thousands of dollars on acupuncture to cure autism, brain training to cure Down Syndrome, eye training for ADHD, and a host of other fake treatments. These mothers and fathers are the good ones, just trying to help their children, but it makes educators crazy to see these families doing without so some phony business can steal their cash. Not to mention the letdown afterwards.

How can you keep from being a victim? Here are a few warning signs:

  • The service provider is in a disreputable location such as an alley or warehouse district.
  • They can't provide you with proven independent university studies.
  • The company may warn you that "the entire medical community" doesn't want your child's problem cured so the doctors can make more money. Really? If a cure is discovered for autism, you don't think it would be all over the news?
  • This individual or group of people can't produce independent studies that prove their methods work. 
  • There are no "satisfied customers" available for you to call.
  • The treatment in question cures "everything". Learning disabilities come from many sources, and therefore need different types of treatment. 
  • They state their methods are a cure. 
  • You're asked not to tell your pediatrician or teachers about their treatment.
  • They ask for cash only. 
If you've already been taken, it's not too late.

  • Call the Better Business Bureau and the State Attorney's office.
  • Tell everyone you know--especially through blog posts, Facebook, and Twitter.
  • If you were able to pay with a credit card, dispute the charges.
  • Opening your mouth is the best way to put them out of business.