Online ads for massage can be misleading to the public and denigrating to the Massage Therapy profession. 

Over the past few months, MTAM has received and responded to a growing number of complaints from the public and RMTs regarding massage services advertised on online classified sites (ex., Kijiji, letgo, craigslist, etc.).

Some of the advertisements may appear legitimate and state that there are certified or Registered Massage Therapists providing treatments; however, more often the ads contain misleading and/or fraudulent information regarding the practitioner’s qualifications, type of treatments/services provided, or eligibility for insurance reimbursement.

How does MTAM respond to complaints or concerns regarding online advertising?

Advertising platforms generally don't want the public to feel misled by ads that they deliver. They have policies in place to help ensure that advertisers provide upfront information for the public to make informed decisions. Unfortunately, we’ve seen that the policies are not always successful. 

MTAM frequently reaches out to various online advertising agencies to offer our assistance in modifying their advertising criteria to help better distinguish between the ads that are promoting massage therapy healthcare and those ads that are selling sexual services under the guise of certified or Registered Massage Therapist treatments.

Each complaint MTAM receives is addressed and, when appropriate, reports are filed with the online advertising agency, Canadian Health and Life Insurance Association, the Winnipeg Police Service or RCMP and other organizations as needed. 

Tips for detecting misleading or fraudulent ads

These on-line classified ads will often include a combination of the following:

  • Use of stock images or clip art - many images are of young women in suggestive poses

  • Identifying practitioners by their name, gender and age 
  • Use of poor spelling, grammar, inaccurate terminology and/or terminology inconsistent with massage therapy healthcare
  • Advertise very late evening/early morning hours

What can I do if I see a suspicious looking online ad?

Anyone who is concerned by an ad that appears misleading or fraudulent should contact the advertising agency to express their concerns.

If you have been the victim of an advertising scam, misleading or fraudulent ad or service provider, you can take action.

To report a sexual assault, call 9-1-1 in emergency situations, or local emergency services where 911 is not available, or 204-986-6222 for non-emergency situations. To speak in confidence to a detective from the Winnipeg Police Sex Crimes Unit, call 204-986-6245.

If you have witnessed or have information about insurance fraud or a potential crime, you can:

 

How do I find a qualified Registered Massage Therapist?

Regardless of your intention when receiving massage therapy, from stress reduction to long-term pain management, only a professional and fully-qualified Massage Therapist will have the breadth of skills and safe practice knowledge to ensure you will receive treatment that will meet your goals and healthcare needs.

Visit MTAM’s Referral Service page to find a professional RMT near you. 

I’m an RMT looking for a budget-friendly way to advertise my clinic. What are other options for me to advertise?

Because of the high volume of misleading, inappropriate or harmful ads found on some online advertising sites, we recommend that RMTs avoid advertising there. It may negatively affect your massage therapy practice by increasing the number of individuals calling for services that you don’t provide.

MTAM understands the need for RMTs and clinics to find cost-effective ways to advertise. MTAM practice advisors are available to help Members find effective, budget-friendly advertising options that will meet your business needs. Contact a practice advisor to set up a meeting.