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Attorney General Lockyer Announces Multistate Settlement in Sale of Unapproved Hearing Devices
(SACRAMENTO) – Attorney General Bill Lockyer today announced a settlement in a four-year, multi-state health fraud investigation into the distribution of the Crystal Ear hearing device. TechnoBrands, Inc., agreed to stop making unsubstantiated claims about the product, which it advertised on television infomercials and through mail-order ads as an "assistive listening device," rather than a hearing aid. California and federal law do not recognize that distinction, and investigators alleged the product is an unapproved hearing aid.
"Companies that advertise and sell products by making false or misleading representations prey on California consumers," Lockyer said. "Different hearing losses require different types of devices and unless consumers are tested by a professional, there is no way to know through the mail whether the hearing aid will be of any use."
Under the settlement, TechnoBrands, formally known as Comtrad Industries Inc., agreed to stop claiming the $300 device doesn't need fitting, is superior to $2,000 canal hearing aids and is "capable of treating hearing loss in many cases." California law requires an examination of the consumer by an audiologist, who gives the patient a note indicating that it is appropriate for the consumer to buy the hearing aid through the mail.
TechnoBrands will pay a total of $105,000, with the 14 agencies involved in the investigation receiving $7,000 each. They are Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Texas, Wisconsin and the District of Columbia.
The action marks the second time the group has successfully concluded legal action against a distributor of the hearings aids. Last January, PCC Direct, Inc., of Florida, also agreed to stop advertising, selling or dispensing any hearing aid in any state without having the proper license. In addition, the company agreed to stop making any claims about its product's quality that are not substantiated by competent and reliable scientific evidence.