The Government Says This Mosquito Repellent Is Too Good to Be True

May 26th 2016

Danielle DeCourcey

In the time of mosquito-borne viruses like West Nile, Eastern Equine Encephalitis, and Zika, Americans are understandably anxious about bug bites.

Now, the Federal Trade Commission is going after companies who they say are trying to cash in on those fears.

The agency announced on Tuesday that it had settled a lawsuit with Vitatek Consumer Products for marketing Mosquito Shield Bands, which they claimed created a "vapor barrier" to protect users for up to 120 hours.

While this "too good to be true" claim was being made before the current Zika outbreak started, The FTC argued that Vitatek profited by marketing to those who wanted to protect themselves from the virus.

“With Zika virus and other mosquito-borne illnesses in the news, consumers might be looking for products that protect them from mosquitos,” said Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, in a press release on the FTC's website. “The defendants took advantage of those concerns, and peddled a product without having scientific support that it effectively prevented mosquito bites.”

The bands are no longer available for purchase on Wal-Mart's website.

Bug Repellant Bands, 10 pk

A search for the "Viatek mosquito shield bands 12 pack" came up with an empty link on the Viatek website.

Search results for Mosquito Shield Banks

The FTC's court complaint took issue with the advertising claims made on the company website and on the Home Shopping Network that the bands keep mosquitos away for up to 120 hours, create a 5 foot wide "vapor barrier," and prevent mosquito bites.

The complaint said that the "defendants do not possess, and did not possess at the time they made the representations, competent and reliable scientific evidence to substantiate the representations" and therefore should have never made those claims in their advertising.

A representative from Viatek sent a statement to ATTN: saying that the company stands behind the effectiveness of its products but it had to settle with the FTC because of the expensive court proceedings. Here is part of the statement below.

"After over five years of legal proceedings with the FTC, and the expenditure of hundreds of thousands of dollars, Viatek has agreed to pay a settlement of $300,000 for the sales of mosquito Bands manufactured in Brooklyn, NY and sold between 2010-2012. To date, Viatek stands behind the empirical scientific evidence that resulted from multiple tests performed as to the efficacy of their mosquito bands. The tests were conducted by a leading American university and a distinguished professor of entomology, who provided competent and reliable evidence for the claims."— Viatek Consumer Products Group Inc.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that Americans should avoid mosquito bites, especially when traveling abroad this year in regions with higher risks of mosquito-borne illnesses. Pregnant women should be especially careful, as Zika virus can cause severe birth defects in unborn babies.

RELATED: Here Are the U.S. Locations with the Most Zika Virus Cases