Reghan Winkler: How to Spot Misleading Ads


According to Forbes Magazine, digital marketing experts estimate that most Americans are exposed to between 4,000 and 10,000 advertisements every day.

That’s a lot of brands competing for your attention to sell their products. And, while you may think advertising isn’t working, consider this scenario: what’s the first thing you look at in the morning? Your Android or iPhone? Then you hop in the shower and lather up with a bar of Dove soap. After brushing your teeth with Crest toothpaste and drying yourself with a Kohl’s towel, you search the closet for an Under Armor shirt and a pair of Levi’s. It’s only the first half hour of your day and you haven’t even scanned Facebook yet or stepped out to get into your Ford F150 pickup truck.

The fact is that advertising works. The hardest part as a consumer is sifting through the 4,000 to 10,000 advertisements to make good buying decisions. Whether you see the ad on TV, hear it on the radio, read it in an email or text message, your ability to recognize and spot misleading and misleading advertisements can save you from contributing to billions of dollars lost each year by unscrupulous people and often non-existent businesses.

To become a more informed consumer, consider using these tips:

• The best rule of thumb to keep in mind when facing an advertisement is the old adage: “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is”. This doesn’t mean the ad is fake, but it does mean you need to check further to make sure it’s legit.

• Check the company’s website. Dive deeper beyond the first two pages. Be aware that while scammers may create fake sites that look genuine, with realistic testimonial pages, blogs, and staff pages, they rarely produce privacy or terms of service pages.

• Look for grammatical and spelling errors in the advertisement and the website indicated in the advertisement.

• Google the company’s phone number to see if it’s associated with any complaints about it. If there is no complaint, call the company and ask questions such as who is the CEO or president, what is their address, or possibly who is the head of their marketing department. Ask to speak to these people if possible. Ask for references from their bank, salespersons, distributors or suppliers. If you’re having trouble getting this information, this is a company you probably don’t want to do business with.

• Search the website to verify that the address, phone number and website match what was on the ad. You can also check the company’s rating from an A+ to F, as well as any consumer complaints or reviews.

• Check reviews online. Organizations such as Yelp, Glassdoor, and Amazon can give you an idea of ​​the experiences other consumers have had with the company.

• You may be able to find information about a local business by going to the Ohio Secretary of State’s website ( and doing a business search. Although not all businesses are incorporated, this is just one more tool you can use to see if a business has taken the necessary steps to incorporate, who the directors are, and for how long. time they are in business.

Finally, you can contact us at the local BBB office by calling 419-223-7010 if you have any doubts or questions about a company. We would like to help!

Reghan Winkler is executive director of the Better Business Bureau serving West Central Ohio. The BBB can be found on the Internet at


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