The Federal Trade Commission recently reached a proposed settlement over what the agency alleged were false and unproven claims about Oreck’s Halo vacuum and ProShield Plus air purifier. The air purifier filters air particles using an electrostatic precipitator, while the vacuum features a HEPA filter.

According to the complaint, Oreck used infomercials, print ads, in-store displays, online advertisements and traditional television ads to make unsubstantiated claims like “The Halo and the ProShield Plus prevent or substantially reduce the risk of flu,” and “The Halo and the ProShield Plus prevents or substantially reduces the risk of other illnesses or ailments caused by bacteria, viruses, molds, and allergens – such as the common cold – asthma, and allergy symptoms.” In addition, the FTC alleged that Oreck provided advertisements to its franchised stores for use in their marketing and sale of the products, which provided the “means and instrumentalities” to deceive consumers.

One online ad displayed the two products side by side under the headline, “Introducing the Oreck Flu Fighters, Help Reduce the Flu on Virtually any Surface and in the Air in Your Home,” while an infomercial claimed that “The Oreck Halo has killed up to 99.9 percent of bacteria exposed to its light in one second or less.”

Under the terms of the settlement, Oreck will pay the FTC $750,000.

The company also agreed to refrain from making claims about a product’s health benefits without competent and reliable scientific evidence for support, and to send a letter to all of its franchisees instructing them to stop using all advertising and marketing materials provided by Oreck.

To read the complaint against Oreck, click here.

To read the consent agreement, click here.

Why it matters: The agency noted that the settlement was part of its “ongoing efforts to protect consumers from bogus health claims,” a reminder to companies that regardless of the type of product, they should be careful about making health-related claims for their products, and they should have substantiation for all claims.