PHOENIX (3 On Your Side) - Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich is sounding the alarm about knock-off hearing aids, following a spike in consumer complaints.
So far this year, the Attorney General's office has received 140 complaints about hearing amplifiers that are sold online without a prescription. According to Brnovich, consumers say many of the so-called hearing aids do not provide any hearing assistance. Brnovich said his office is investigating the complaints and considering possible action, but did not say which companies are targets of the investigation.
"Especially elderly consumers get taken advantage of," Brnovich told 3 On Your Side.
In 2017, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced plans to loosen restrictions and allow the sale of more affordable over-the-counter hearing aids. The agency has not yet created final rules to regulate the new class of hearing devices. In the meantime, Brnovich says some unscrupulous companies are taking advantage of consumers who are looking for an inexpensive way to treat hearing loss.
"There are companies that engage in advertising or marketing campaigns where they don’t provide truthful information, so any time you buy a product, you should be careful," Brnovich warned.
For years, Valley audiologist, Dr. Cliff Olson has made similar warnings on his video blog.
"All they're getting is generic amplifiers," he said. "The biggest problem with the over-the-counter hearing amplifiers is they amplify all sounds, and depending on where you have a hearing loss at, you may not need it."
"They could actually damage your hearing further," he added.
Brnovich says consumers should be skeptical of online testimonials, read refund and return policies carefully, and consider scheduling an appointment with a hearing specialist.