New York Consumer Alert: Beware of Deceptive Hearing Aid Sellers | Local News | Auburn, New York State |


Citizen staff

New York State is warning consumers to be aware of the sale of hearing aids that may not work very well, if at all.

Attorney General Letitia James issued a consumer alert on Friday regarding deceptive companies selling unregulated and potentially defective over-the-counter hearing aids.

In a press release, James said New York law requires hearing aids to be sold only by licensed audiologists or hearing aid distributors after the supplier has performed an examination and fitting. Last month, the United States Food and Drug Administration proposed a rule allowing the sale of a new class of over-the-counter hearing aids that could be sold directly to consumers without examination, and although unregulated hearing aids may function as intended, there is a risk that the devices may be defective or totally inadequate for the treatment of hearing loss.

James said the ads for these new over-the-counter hearing aids are already targeting consumers in New York City, although there are currently none that have received FDA approval.

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“Hearing loss affects people of all ages and from all walks of life and I urge all New Yorkers to do their research before purchasing these devices,” James said in a statement. “Companies that sell over-the-counter hearing aids are not held to the same standards as the licensed professionals who supply these essential devices, and they are not required to educate consumers about the risks associated with their products. While consumers may be tempted to purchase these unregulated and illegal products due to their low prices, the ultimate price you pay may be additional hearing loss.

Medical device companies are required to register and list their devices with the FDA, although that registration only indicates that the company has provided information to the FDA; it does not indicate approval, clearance, or FDA clearance of the device. Unfortunately, James said, that hasn’t stopped some disreputable sellers from falsely claiming their products are “FDA registered” or “FDA cleared.”

The Attorney General’s Office recommends the following tips for anyone considering purchasing hearing aids:

• Beware of misleading claims. Over-the-counter hearing aids are only intended to treat mild to moderate hearing loss and may not be able to treat severe hearing loss. Avoid buying over-the-counter hearing aids that claim to treat severe hearing loss or hearing loss in children.

• Do your research. Beware of testimonials on a seller’s website. Instead, check with the Better Business Bureau to see if they have a good rating and if consumers have made complaints against the company before purchasing a product.

• Consider having your hearing assessed by a healthcare professional. While online hearing tests can be convenient, they may not detect severe hearing loss or the underlying causes of your hearing loss.

• Know your rights: Under state law, if you are not satisfied with your hearing aids, you are allowed to return them within 45 days of receiving them, including batteries, cords and cables. accessories and all hearing aid costs, for a full refund less 10 percent. The seller must provide you with a written statement with this information. If a seller offers a longer return period, they must honor it.

New Yorkers who believe they have been misled or scammed by over-the-counter hearing aid vendors are encouraged to contact the Attorney General’s Office by submitting a complaint form online or by calling (800) 428-9071 .


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