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BBB warning of fake “free trial” scams surfacing during coronavirus crisis

The Better Business Bureau says scams have reemerged that are offering free product or subscription trials that might entice people as they’re sheltering at home.
Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Whether you’re trying to find new shows to watch or a supplement that might help you lose weight from the lack of exercise, the Better Business Bureau says people are losing hundreds, if not thousands of dollars to “free trial” scams.

“It’s not a new scam but it’s been given new legs because of Covid,” said Tom Bartholomy with the Better Business Bureau (BBB).

Bartholomy says this scam targets people with free trials of products you might be looking for more often these days.

 “They top it off with, there’s no risk,” Bartholomy said. “It’s a free trial, try it and if you don’t like it, you don’t have to buy anything.”

The BBB’s scamtracker has seen one offering a free Netflix trial.

“They’re going to use a similar sounding name, maybe even the same exact name, and

The logo is going to be the same, the branding is going to be identical to what the real Netflix is,” Bartholomy said.

Bartholomy says not only will you not get free Netflix, you could get your identity stolen.

“Between your name, your address, your email, you credit card information, maybe your banking information, that’s a field day for a scammer,” Bartholomy said.

Boredom isn’t the only thing people are struggling with, though.

“We’re eating a lot,” Bartholomy said. “The covid-19 is also the covid-19lbs.”

 Bartholomy says scammers know it, too.

 “[They’re] touting weight loss, better health,” Bartholomy said.”

In that instance, Bartholomy says either you’ll similarly give up information without getting a product, or it’ll be very difficult to cancel the subscription.

“Some of them we’ve seen that in order to cancel, you have to send them a letter,” Bartholomy said. “People are going to go, ‘this is ridiculous,’ so they put it off another month and another $75 comes out of their account. That’s how these people make their money.”

Bartholomy says while not many people read the entirety of the terms and conditions, you should go to the section on cancellations and see exactly what it will require. You should also examine the website to make sure it’s legitimate.

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