Monday, October 23, 2017

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Title: Can You Trust Online Cancer Support Services?

Written by  Christine Stoddard

The ubiquity of the internet has made it easy for individuals to find information quickly and from the comfort of their homes. Unfortunately, it has also made it simple for some organizations to take advantage of people – especially those who may be most vulnerable, looking for resources and support to help them through difficult times.

 

To help you in your search for the most credible information, keep these simple tips in mind:

If it looks too good to be true, it is.
Be cautious of offers of ‘free trips’ for cancer patients, websites that ask for personal information, like your social security number or bank information and use screenshots of doctors claiming they have “miracle cures” so you can bring them to your provider. Even blogs can sometimes be misleading as they offer a very individualized experience and don’t provide the most accurate information needed for your own experience.

Use websites with .gov or .org for general information and support services.
Be careful if you come across a .com site offering “too good to be true” services or uncorroborated information. Some websites that are recommended include the National Cancer Institute, the American Cancer Society (which has over 800 resources for patients in VA), Cancer Care, and the National Comprehensive Cancer Network.

Caregivers, you should be aware too.
There are also many misleading websites geared to caregivers. In addition using sites with .gov and .org, you can find resources at the Family Caregiver Alliance, National Family Caregiver Association, and the National Cancer Institute.

Always remember that it’s easy to type in the word cancer and go to many different sites, all with promising or misleading information, but this does not mean you should avoid the internet altogether. As long as you know what to look for, online resources can be great tools to help talk with providers and find some great services.

So, what do you do if you find fraudulent services or see acts of abuse online?
Unfortunately, a specific agency for reporting cancer fraud doesn’t exist, but you can report it to USA.gov via their Online Safety portal. There you can learn more about safety on the internet, file a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center, and report cyber crime with the Department of Justice.

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