All You Need to Know About Free Trial Scams

It’s a new product... and you can try it for free! 

Sounds amazing? Well, know that a free trial can actually be a gateway to a devastating scam. Here’s what you need to know about free trial scams and how to stay safe.

What are free trial scams?

Free trial scams typically involve a business offering a product or service at no cost for a limited time. But the catch is that by signing up for the trial, consumers unknowingly agree to pay for ongoing subscriptions or other products. These scams are particularly shady because they seem legit, often using professional-looking websites and marketing materials to trick users. There’s also nothing criminal about free trial scams; just manipulative and deceitful marketing

How do free trial scams work?

Here are the steps of a free trial scam:

  1. Enticing offers. Scammers lure consumers with attractive offers, such as free trials for popular products like skincare items, dietary supplements or streaming services. 
  2. Hidden terms and conditions. When signing up for a free trial, consumers must provide their credit card information. The terms and conditions, which outline the true cost and the auto-renewal policy, are usually hidden in fine print or on another page.
  3. Auto-renewal traps. After the trial period ends, consumers are automatically charged for a subscription or new products. These charges can be a lot, and they’re usually set up to recur. 
  4. Unauthorized charges. In some cases, scammers continue to charge even after attempts to cancel. These charges can be for various fees or additional products that the consumer did not knowingly agree to pay.

How to avoid a free trial scam

  • Before signing up for any free trial, research the company offering the product or service. 
  • Pay attention to details about the duration of the free trial, the cost of the subscription after the trial ends and the cancellation policy. 
  • Regularly review your checking account and credit card statements for unauthorized charges. 
  • When signing up for any online service, use strong, unique passwords to protect your accounts. 
  • Verify the security of every website you visit.
  • If you decide to sign up for a free trial, set a reminder for a few days before the trial ends. This will allow you to evaluate the product or service before deciding to continue or cancel the subscription before you’re charged.