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by Sid Kirchheimer, AARP Bulletin, September 6, 2010
Bedbug bites are itchy and annoying. But they can bring on a more painful bite: high-priced fake treatments, which are multiplying as the media report growing numbers of infestations by the insects.
It's best to ignore the ionic, ultrasonic or electromagnetic gizmos pitched on TV or the Internet. "I have never seen any evidence that any of them work," says Richard Pollack, a research entomologist who has been studying bedbugs for two decades.
And think twice before buying aerosol "bug bombs" or other off-the-shelf insecticides. "Their risk is greater to yourself than the bedbugs," Pollack says. "This is not a do-it-yourself job."
Before accepting a pitch from a self-proclaimed pest control professional, be aware that the bedbug epidemic has brought scammers out of the woodwork.
"I don't want to say there are a lot of fly-by-nights, but the atmosphere is certainly ripe for scams," says Samuel Soto, a retired police detective sergeant who now runs a New York pest control business, First Rate Solutions.
Some tips if you're worried about bedbugs:
Sid Kirchheimer is the author of Scam-Proof Your Life (AARP Books/Sterling).
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