Fraud Friday: Are free trials really free?

Mar 24, 2023 | General News

Free trials seem to offer the perfect deal — an opportunity to try a product or subscription service for no cost sounds great. But oftentimes what appears to be a free or low-cost trial can end up costing you.

Many free trials are subscription traps that hide the fact that you are signing up for recurrent deliveries of questionable products. Free trial scams are most commonly seen on Facebook and Instagram ads for things like weight loss products, wrinkle creams, or supplements. Most require you to enter card information to either pay for shipping or to cover future costs if you forget to end the trial or subscription.

While you may remember to cancel the service before any fees hit your card, it’s not always that simple. Some deceitful businesses hide the terms and conditions in small font or use pre-checked boxes as the default setting.

If you end up getting charged for something you didn’t expect – it’s often unlikely your financial institution will be able to claim fraud, which means it’s unlikely you’ll get your money back.

Here are 5 tips to avoid unwanted charges related to free trials:

  1. Do your research — check the company’s online reviews to see if other customers have complained about unexpected charges
  2. Check the terms and conditions – if you can’t find them or don’t understand exactly what you are agreeing to, don’t sign up
  3. Look for pre-checked boxes – before clicking “submit” make sure you haven’t agreed to something by a box you didn’t check
  4. Mark your calendar – read closely when the trial ends and mark the date on a calendar you use frequently
  5. Know how to cancel – look for information on how you can cancel future shipments or services before you sign up

As always, pay attention to the charges on your card so you know right away if you’re being charged for something you didn’t order. Use our convenient online or mobile banking to manage your account wherever you are. You can even set up alerts and reminders to help you keep track of charges.

Download the Guthrie County State Bank mobile app today on Google Play or the App Store.

If you have any questions on free trial scams, feel free to reach out to us!