Lumosity to pay users for false claims

Company claimed program would protect against cognitive decline.

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WASHINGTON — The creators and marketers of the Lumosity “brain training” program have agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges.

Unfounded claims

The charges alleged that they deceived consumers with unfounded claims that Lumosity games can help users perform better at work and in school, and reduce or delay cognitive impairment associated with age and other serious health conditions.

Fines

As part of the settlement, Lumos Labs, the company behind Lumosity, will pay $2 million in redress and will notify subscribers of the FTC action and provide them with an easy way to cancel their auto-renewal to avoid future billing. According to the FTC’s complaint, the Lumosity program consists of 40 games purportedly designed to target and train specific areas of the brain.

Game training

The company advertised that training on these games for 10 to 15 minutes three or four times a week could help users achieve their “full potential in every aspect of life.”

Money spent

The company sold both online and mobile app subscriptions, with options ranging from monthly ($14.95) to lifetime ($299.95) memberships.

Lumosity has been widely promoted through TV and radio advertisements. The defendants also marketed through emails, social media, and on their website, Lumosity.com, to drive traffic to their website.

Brain issues

The FTC alleges that the defendants claimed training with Lumosity would improve performance on everyday tasks; delay age-related cognitive decline and provide help with symptoms after ailments such as a stroke.

Scientific evidence needed

The proposed federal court order requires the company to have scientific evidence before making future claims about any benefits for real-world performance, age-related decline, or other health conditions.

Judgment

The order also imposes a $50 million judgment against Lumos Labs, which will be suspended due to its financial condition after the company pays $2 million to the Commission.

The order requires the company to notify subscribers who signed up for an auto-renewal plan between Jan. 1, 2009 and Dec. 31, 2014 about the FTC action and to provide a means to cancel their subscription.

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