Recently, Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill issued a warning about “free trial” scams. These scams begin with ads that appear to offer a free trial of a product with the consumer only being required to pay a small shipping and handling charge. These ads, which are for many products, but most commonly weight loss products often feature fake celebrity endorsements. While there are companies that indeed do offer free trials of their products, the scammers use fine print that the consumer never reads or even sees that charge the victim of the scam’s credit card for the product if it is not returned within a few days. Making things even worse, many of the scammers also automatically enroll the victims of the scam to receive monthly deliveries of their products, all of which are paid for by the credit card which the victim of the scam provided thinking the card was only to be charged the small fee for shipping and handling of their “free” product. In 2017, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) mailed 227,000 refund checks to victims of phony weight loss products and supplements sold by Health Formulas LLC and a number of other related companies who perpetrated this type of scam.  According to the FTC, Health Formulas LLC lured victims with “free trials” and tricked their victims into providing their credit and debit card information.  Health Formulas LLC then enrolled their victims into a program with continuing automatic monthly payments for their bogus weight loss products.

TIPS

As for weight loss products, the truth is that there are no quick fixes when it comes to weight loss and you should be wary of any product that promises you can lose tremendous amounts of weight quickly without dieting or exercise.  You should also be wary of any weight loss product that is sold exclusively either over the Internet or through mail-order advertisements.  It is also important to remember that no cream that you rub in your skin can help you lose substantial weight and no product can block the absorption of fat or calories.  The best course of action is to ask your physician about the effectiveness of a particular weight loss product or program before you reduce your wallet in an effort to reduce your waistline.

Finally, there never is a reason to provide your credit or debit card information for a “free” offer. Also, because there rarely is anything fine in fine print, it is important whenever you purchase something to read the fine print that contains the terms of what you have agreed to.

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