Beware of “free trial” offers

Many promotional offers by companies lure consumers into accepting products or subscriptions, but then it can be difficult to avoid a bill, cautions AARP’s Fraud Watch Network.

Often “free trial” offers require consumers to cancel after the free part ends. And when you don’t cancel, you’ll receive more of the product, along with the bill.

In some cases, the fine print makes it very difficult to cancel in time to avoid any charges. The tactics are generally legal, “unless the seller fails to disclose that you’ll be charged following the free offer,” cautions AARP’s Fraud Watch Network.

Always read the fine print before accepting a free trial, or simply decline the offer. Keep an eye out for unauthorized charges on your credit card statement. If one appears, don’t call the toll-free number next to it to dispute the charge. Rather, call your credit card company to report it for a better chance of canceling out the charge. If you do get caught in this trap, file a consumer complaint with the Federal Trade Commission and your state attorney general’s office.

Another way to inform yourself about whether a free offer is a good move is before signing up, search online for reviews about the company.

For more information: