Warning Signs

Tips for knowing what online information to trust. 

It may not be easy to know what online information to trust. Even some reputable websites may fall short in certain areas. A helpful way to assess a website is to look closely at what’s there and what isn’t.

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has developed a list of claims that should make you suspicious of a website:

> Claims of a “scientific breakthrough,” “miraculous cure,” “secret ingredient,” or “ancient remedy.”

> Claims that a product can cure a wide range of illnesses. No single product can do this.

> Case histories of people who have had amazing results but no clear scientific data are available.

> Claims that a product is available only from one source, especially if payment is required in advance.

> Claims of a “money-back” guarantee.

> Websites that do not list the company’s name, physical address, phone number, or other important contact information.

Problems in any of these areas should raise a red flag to the user that the website may have scientifically inaccurate information. This may be especially important when looking at sites promoting complementary or alternative cancer treatments.

Adapted with permission of the American Cancer Society