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Beware of "Free Trial" Offers!

When you see an advertisement for a "free" trial or offer, be sure to look closely at the fine print before signing up!

What appears to be a free or low cost trial offer can end up costing much more. Most free trial offers require consumers to enter in their card information to pay for shipping or to cover future costs if you fail to cancel the trial in time. Some businesses hide the terms and conditions of their offers in small font or use pre-checked boxes as a default setting that may trick you into signing up. This makes it difficult to dispute the charges and most likely won't be able to claim the purchase was fraud.

Here's some tips from the Federal Trade Commission on how to avoid being scammed:

  • Research the company online to see what other people are saying about it. Complaints from other customers can tip you off to 'catches' that come with the trial offer.
  • Find the Terms and Conditions of the offer within the ad. If you can't find them or don't understand what you are agreeing to, don't sign up!
  • Look for who is behind the offer. Just because you are buying something online from a company, that doesn't mean the offer is from that company, it may be coming from another business.
  • Watch out for pre-checked boxes. The checkmark may be giving the company the authority to sign you up and charge you for more products in the future.
  • Look for information on how to cancel future shipments or services. There may be other fees or a limited time to respond.
  • Mark your calendar. The free trial offer probably has a time limit. If you haven't canceled and that time passes, you may be on the hook for more products.
  • Read your account statements and watch your accounts online! You will know right away if you're being charged for something you didn't order and can contact the company immediately to get your refund!