An 84-year-old widow called the AARP Fraud Watch Network after accepting a free trial offer for a skin cream she had seen a famous personality touting on television. She had no idea she needed to cancel after receiving the free trial. She was sent more product at a cost of $200 and is now fighting to return the product and get her money back.

How it Works:

 

  • Free trial offers often lure you into accepting a free product or subscription, but require you to cancel after receiving your offer.
  • When you don’t cancel, you receive more product, whether it’s face cream or magazines, and you’re stuck with the bill.
  • Often the fine print makes it very difficult to cancel in time to avoid a charge.
What You Should Know:

 

  • Unfortunately, the tactics are generally legal, unless the seller fails to disclose that you will be charged following the free offer.
  • These kinds of offers are all over the place, so be very careful to read the fine print before accepting a free trial, or simply decline the offer.
  • It’s a good idea to search online for reviews about the company offering the free trial. You can learn a lot about potential customer service issues this way.
  • Review your credit card statement regularly. Keep an eye out for unauthorized charges.
What You Should Do:

 

  • If an unauthorized charge appears on your statement, don’t call the toll-free number next to it to dispute the charge. Rather, call your credit card company’s customer service number to report it. You’ll have a better chance of canceling out the charge this way.
  • If you get caught in this trap, file a consumer complaint with the Federal Trade Commission and the Better Business Bureau.

The SD Division of Consumer Protections and the SD Better Business Bureau often investigate these kinds of offers and help warn South Dakotans to stay vigilant.

When it comes to fraud, vigilance is our number one weapon. You can join the Fraud Watch Network and receive alerts about scams happening in South Dakota. Any one of any age can join for free by visiting aarp.org/fraudwatchnetwork or to receive Fraud Watch Network alerts by phone, call 1-866-542-8172.

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