If you've played Luminosity's Brain Games & Brain Training, you need to know that you may have been duped into subscribing to it. It's costly, too, at $14.95 a month, or $300 for a lifetime subscription.
If you have played the games just for fun, great. But if you've bought into Luminosity's extensive advertising claims that it can train your brain to be more efficient in performing everyday tasks, or to stave off dementia or Alzheimer's disease, you need to know about a settlement it has made with the Federal Trade Commission.
Luminosity has been fined $2 million by the FTC for deceptive advertising. Those ads appeared on TV networks like Fox News and CNN, and on radio stations. Plus, Luminosity bought hundreds of Google AdWords like "Alzheimer's disease." Meaning, if you searched for that term, and others, an ad for Luminosity would pop up on your screen.
The problem is that Luminosity, owned by Lumos Labs, couldn't back up its claims. The FTC says there's no basis for Luminosity to claim that playing one of its 40 games for 10 to 15 minutes, three or four times a week, has those benefits.
"Luminosity preyed on consumers' fears about age-related cognitive decline, suggesting their games could stave off memory loss, dementia, and even Alzheimer's disease," said Jessica Rich, director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection, in a statement. "But Luminosity did not have the science to back up its ads."
According to the FTC, Luminosity falsely made three claims. First, that it could improve your everyday performance at school or work.
Second, Luminosity claimed that it could delay age-related cognitive problems, including dementia and Alzheimer's disease. Third, the company claimed that playing its brain games could reduce the severity of brain-related issues, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, stroke, Turner syndrome and traumatic brain injury.
The FTC also found that some of the online testimonials it posted were not properly disclosed. Some of them were written by people trying to win prizes, such as iPads.
There's good news. The $2 million fine will go directly back to some subscribers. Plus, Luminosity has to give people a way to unsubscribe, if they signed up for automatic renewals between 2009 and 2014.
The company has agreed to alert its subscribers to its settlement with the FTC. Lumos Labs will also not be able to make any future medical claims, without having scientific proof to back up those claims.