Free Weight Loss Trial and Beauty Product Scam Warning for Consumers

Free trial offer scams

Do you believe that when an advertisement promotes a free trial for a weight-loss product or beauty product that even though it may not work, that you will lose nothing more than your time for trying out a freebie product? Think again, according to this latest warning for consumers.

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Does that ad sound too good to be true? Chances are it is. According to a recent article published in the business section of Dublin’s Independent.IE, the consumer watchdog group ECC Ireland is warning consumers that the number of complaints about free trials ripping off consumers with clever scam tactics has almost doubled the past year.

Here’s one way the scam works: You sign up online for a free trial of some weight-loss pills or a beauty product such as an anti-wrinkle cream. And, since you are getting their product for free, it only seems fair that you pay for the postage and handling by supplying your credit card number and/or other identifying information. Then, after getting your “free product” and maybe something extra, you discover some mysterious charges on your credit card’s next billing statement and every following month. Why? Because you’ve been duped into enrolling into a monthly subscription service by requesting the “free” trial product.

"With many of these companies, you're told that you can't use one product without using another," said Caroline Curneen, assistant legal advisor with ECC Ireland. "For example, you could be told that you have to use a serum along with a moisturizer―or two weight loss herbs at the same time. That means you could be billed twice every month and the monthly subscription could add up to €150 ($170 U.S.) One person who contacted us last year had lost over €1,000 ($1,131 U.S.) after signing up to a 'free' face cream trial."

Tips for Avoiding “Free” Product Scams

Scam Avoidance Tip #1: Don’t buy into anything offered for free on the internet or social media―According to Ms. Curneen, legitimate free make-up and weight-loss trials are few and far between and so it’s best to just not buy into their hype and marketing promises.

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Scam Avoidance Tip #2: Don’t be fooled by time limits that appear to benefit you―Time limit offers such as 2 weeks to try a product and then refuse any following pay-for items are typically gamed to begin the moment the order is placed—the clock is ticking and you may discover that your time has ran out by the time you get the free sample.

Scam Avoidance Tip #3: Never, ever hand over your credit or debit card details to a company that offers a free trial―Even if they assure you that it’s only to “cover the cost of postage and packaging” or “part of their registration process,” it’s really a tactic to get you to turn over your vital info for their use. If you still feel compelled to try their offer, see if they will accept a money order instead.

Scam Avoidance Tip #4: Look closely at the ad and do a web search to see if you can find a real business address―Having a P.O. Box for a business address and no other contact info is a good indication that you are looking at a disreputable offer. Sure, it could be legitimate, but it is likely that finding someone to contact for a complaint or a refund is going to be nearly impossible.

Scam Avoidance Tip #5: When you suspect that you’ve been had, contact your credit card service desk―Often it’s possible to refuse a charge after it has been made. Credit card carriers are experienced with scam charges and have the wherewithal to recoup lost money.

For more about scams, here are some good tips on how to avoid being scammed on beauty products.

Reference: The Independengt.IE― “The 'free' make-up and weight-loss trials that could cost you thousands

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