What are Free Trial Offers?
Free trial offers are all over the Internet. Many of them pop up in ad windows as you browse the Internet, and others can be seen in banner ads along the sides of the screen. Most (but not all) free trial advertisements are calculated to get money from users. They are usually for products like weight loss pills and teeth whiteners.
- In most cases, the product will be advertised as free. There will, however, be a small shipping and handling fee that requires you to give the site your credit card information. The first shipment of the product will come free of charge, but you will be assessed exorbitant fees for additional shipments within as little as a week. The fine print mentioned that you would be charged these fees, but the message was given in a deceptive way so that it was almost impossible for you to know of any of it. After a series of phone calls and long periods of being put on hold, you will be able to cancel your order. However, the charges already assessed will not be returned.
- Often, the information about the additional fees is near impossible to find. Scammers can hide this information in several ways:
- The information may be typed in a color almost identical to the background color of the ad.
- The company may spell out the numbers as well as the word dollars so that your eye will not catch a money amount as it scans the screen.
How Can I Stay Safe?
- Don't ever sign up for free trial offers of any kind online.
- If you are already ensnared in a free trial offer scam, and you can't get the "company" involved to cancel your contract, you may need to go so far as to cancel your credit card. You may then be able to appeal the fraudulent charges to your credit card company.
Where Can I Learn More?
Here's a CNN Moneywatch article about free trial scams.
This article tells about one woman's unfortunate experience with a fraudulent teeth whitening product.