CORPUS CHRISTI, TX — With each resolution made in the new year comes a wave of trendy scams, designed to capitalize on the good intentions of consumers.
Take weight loss, for example.
Those who want to get in shape or lose weight are at risk of being deceived by those who sell products that do not work as advertised, or worse -- come with a host of unwanted side-effects and monthly subscription fees that seem nearly impossible to discontinue.
New products like topical creams, dietary supplements, workout gadgets, and appetite suppressants flood the market, promising consumers spectacular results. These risk-free schemes often start with an ad for a free product, or with an article that seems to appear on a credible news site. Consumers are encouraged to enter their name, address and credit card number in order to have the product sent for a nominal shipping and handling charge.
Fraudsters have turned such offers into a global multi-billion-dollar industry, which grows every year.
According to the Better Business Bureau, consumers reported losing an average of $186 to so-called free trial offers.
The BBB offers these tips to help when it comes to evaluating weight loss supplements and other weight loss products, and to avoid Free Trial Scams:
Research the company before signing up. Many of these companies have “F” ratings with BBB. Check the product or company name by calling or visiting www.BBB.org to see if there are any complaints and to check whether a scam is involved.
Be wary of Free Trial offers. These deals can become “subscription traps” that hook consumers into expensive shipments of products they did not explicitly agree to buy. Read all the terms and conditions of any free trial offer. Know if there is a cancellation period and return policy.
Watch for fake celebrity endorsements. Research the celebrity claiming to endorse the product to see if they are really backing it. Most scams use images without their consent and use a celebrity’s name for creditability for skincare lotions and for Keto pills weight loss supplements. Many times, the fine print will admit that the endorsements are not real.
Use secure payment methods. Credit cards offer additional protection for disputing a charge and issuing refunds. If you think you have been the victim of a fraudulent weight loss offer, start with your credit card company. Wire transfers and gift cards are extremely hard to trace. If a seller does not accept a credit card, consider walking away.
Contact the BBB to report suspicious, confusing or misleading ads at BBB Ad Truth, or visit the BBB Scam Tracker.
Consumers may also report the ad to the Federal Trade Commission or to the to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center.
Keep in mind that free trial offers can be legitimate ways to introduce new products. However, credible companies make sure consumers understand what they are signing up for and do not hide key information.