BBB, FTC, Indiana attorney general warn about free trial scams

I-Team 8

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The Better Business Bureau gets tens of thousands of complaints every year about free trial scams.

They released a study Wednesday about how free trial scams mislead consumers and often spring surprise charges on them.

If you have seen ads online promising sparkling white teeth, wrinkle-free skin, or instant weight loss, you might have run across a free trial scam. But instead of trying the product, the scam signs you up for much more than you bargained for and the product itself may not be very effective. 

Central Indiana BBB President Tim Maniscalo said the problem with these schemes is how clever the people behind them have become. Maniscalo said after they are busted, they will change their company and product name and go on selling the same thing.

For consumer advocates, the companies are hard to actually find and try to hide their activities from credit card companies. 

A victim of one such company spoke at the study release new conference. She said the skin care products she bought were priced at $5.95 and $4.95, and her initial charges were correct.

However, a few days after buying them, she saw another charge for about $176. Then several weeks later, the same company charged her another $94.

“Even if the products lived up to the hype, the stress and frustration of dealing with this company has given me more wrinkles than their products took away,” said free trial victim, Ann Silvey.

The BBB found that the average victim lost about $186 and most victims were women. Most of the victims were between 30 and 39 years old.

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