Read the fine print and save yourself from free-trial scams

WASHINGTON — Free trial offers are tempting, but watch out for offers that rope you into a long-term subscription without your knowledge.

Many free trials are legitimate. Typically, companies require credit card information, but promise not to charge it until the free trial period ends. But in a video, the Federal Trade Commission says that consumers who get scammed could be on the hook for additional fees, and it’s nearly impossible to get a refund.

Look at the online free-trial form. “If a box is pre-checked for you, uncheck it. That little check mark could be the symbol that gives the company the green light to continue the offer past the free trial, or to sign you up for additional items.” That’s what the FTC claims Health Formulas LLC did: Consumers were charged every month for items they didn’t agree to buy.

To avoid these scams, read all of the terms and conditions. “They might hide the terms deep within the fine print that allows them to bill you every month until you cancel. And that means they’ve enrolled you to receive other products.” And mark the end of the free trial on your calendar so you can cancel if you wish.

How do you know whom to trust? Do your research and check out customer reviews. More tips here.

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