You don’t have to look far to find free offers these days. Many products and services offer a free trial period, but before you sign up, understand the risks.
Is the free offer really free or are there hidden costs?
Is it a scam?
If it’s legitimate, what happens when the trial period is over?
If you’re not careful, that “free” offer could end up costing you some serious money.
Sometimes, hidden charges like enrollment fees and shipping costs are buried in the fine print.
Some online offers come with Terms of Service pre-checked boxes. If you ignore them, you could find yourself on the hook for additional merchandise you never wanted.
The Federal Trade Commission reported one scam in which buyers were instructed to click a second time to “confirm” their order. Without knowing it, they were actually placing a second, full-price order.
Even legitimate free trial offers have risks. In most cases, the service rolls-over to a paid subscription when the free trial period ends. Unless you remember to cancel, the bills will keep coming.
Remember, companies make more money the longer you’re enrolled.
They have no incentive to make the cancellation process easy.
Don’t expect any reminders when your free trial is coming to an end.
And don’t expect the cancellation process to be displayed in big, bold print.
To make sure you don’t get hit with additional charges, mark the cancellation deadline on your calendar and set up an alert on your phone or computer.
And check your credit card statement on a monthly basis. If you see charges you didn’t authorize, contact the company and your bank immediately.
If you’ve been wrongly charged for a free trial offer, report it to the FTC.