The maker of Mosquito Shield Bands, a bracelet that promises to protect people from mosquito bites for up to 120 hours, has agreed to pay the Federal Trade Commission $300,000 for making deceptive marketing claims.

The mosquito repellent bracelet, which is made by Viatek Consumer Products Group and contains mint oil, is sold through both direct advertising and retailers like Walmart, Home Depot, and the Home Shopping Network, for about $20. Viatek claims that Mosquito Shield Bands create a “vapor” barrier that can shield anyone within five feet for 96 to 120 hours. The FTC says the company has no reliable evidence to support such claims.

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

It’s not the first time Viatek has been in trouble for deceptive marketing. Back in 2003, the company’s president, Lou Lentine, was slapped with an administrative order prohibiting him from making claims for some of the company's other pest-control devices that were also not supported by solid scientific evidence. The current settlement includes payments for violating that order.

The company has three options now: produce reliable scientific evidence backing up its claims for Mosquito Shield Bands; change the way it markets the products; or stop selling Mosquito Shield Bands entirely.

In 2015 Consumer Reports tested two wristband repellents—the Coleman Naturals Insect Repellent Snap Band (containing citronella oil) and the Super Band Wristband (containing geraniol oil)—and found that they did not protect against bug bites. (See our most recent insect repellent Ratings). 

Viatek markets several other insect repellent products that have not been EPA-registered, including an ultrasonic pest repeller and a mosquito patio trap. 

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