Two years ago, I told you about Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill warning people 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.
Recently, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) brought a legal action against AH Media Group LLC and its owners for operating a scam involving “free trials” of eight different cosmetic and dietary supplement product lines including Amabella Allure, Adelina, Parisian Glow and Tone Fire Garcinia. All of the products made phony claims of promoting younger looking skin or weight loss. The FTC’s lawsuit is in its early stages, but a court has already ordered a preliminary injunction stopping AH Media from continuing to operate its scam. According to the FTC, the defendants charged consumers for both the “free” trial product and then signed them up for ongoing monthly subscription plans of which the consumers were unaware. The defendants would ask for the consumer’s credit card or debit card to cover the nominal cost of shipping of the allegedly free trial offer, but then the company would make continuing charges.
This scam is very easy to avoid. If there ever was an offer that was too good to be true, this is it. This is also a good time to remind you to never use your debit card for purchases. Only use your credit card. If you are scammed by fraudulent charges on your credit card, you can easily get the charges taken off of your credit card. The consumer protection laws that govern debit cards are not as strong and if you delay notifying the bank where the account tied to your debit card is located, you can potentially lose everything in that bank account with no recourse.
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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