Distributors of the “WaveShield” cell phone radiation patches that claim to protect consumers by blocking up to 99 percent of electromagnetic (“EM”) radiation emitted by cell and cordless phones have agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that their claims are unsubstantiated and false. The settlement with Interact Communications, Inc., and its president, Sheldon Kalnitsky, bars false or unsubstantiated claims about radiation-blocking phone shields or other similar devices.
Interact Communications, Inc., based in Boca Raton, Florida, sells and distributes products under the names WaveShield 1000, Wave Shield Gold, and WaveShield 3000, all of which are intended for use on cellular or cordless phones. Interact Communications supplies these products to various distributors and also directly sells the products on the Internet. In addition, Interact provides the packaging and some advertising and display materials to distributors. The company sold the WaveShield product to California-based Comstar Communications, Inc., a company that settled similar charges with the FTC in April 2003.
The complaint, filed in federal district court, challenges the defendants’ claims that the WaveShield prevents up to 97 percent or 99 percent of all radiation and other electromagnetic energy emitted from cellular and cordless telephones from reaching the brains of users. The complaint alleges that the defendants fail to disclose that most of the energy emitted by cellular and cordless phones comes from the antenna and other parts of the phone, and that WaveShield products have no effect on these other emissions. These facts, the FTC said, would be material to consumers’ decision to buy or use their products. In addition, the complaint alleges that the defendants made false statements that their products had been scientifically “proven” and “tested,” when in fact that was not the case.
The proposed stipulated final order, which requires approval by the court, prohibits the defendants from making any claims regarding the ability of any cell phone shield or other similar radiation-blocking product to reduce exposure to EM radiation, unless the claims are true and can
be substantiated by competent and reliable scientific evidence. The settlement further prohibits the defendants from making any unsubstantiated claims about the benefits, performance, or efficacy of any other health-related product or service. The order requires the defendants, when making any claim regarding radiation blocking, to disclose clearly and prominently that the majority of EM radiation emitted by cellular and cordless phones comes from the antenna and parts of the phone other than the earpiece and that the WaveShield products have no significant effect on this other EM radiation. In addition, the settlement prohibits the defendants from misrepresenting any test, study, or research. It requires the defendants to send a notice of the order to all resellers, and inform them that the defendants will stop doing business with the reseller if it continues to use any advertisement or promotional material that contains the alleged claims.
Finally, the settlement contains various recordkeeping provisions to assist the FTC in monitoring the defendants’ compliance.
The Commission vote to file the complaint and proposed stipulated final order for permanent injunction was 5-0. They were filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida in Miami on December 1, 2003. The order requires the court’s approval.
Copies of the stipulated final order for permanent injunction are available from the FTC’s Web site at http://www.ftc.gov and also from the FTC’s Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580. The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint, or to get free information on any of 150 consumer topics, call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1 877-382-4357), or use the complaint form at http://www.ftc.gov. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft, and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.
(FTC File No. 022 3104)
(Civil Action No. 03-81106-CIV-HURLEY/HOPKINS)