I was online and wanted a free guidebook. All I had to do was enter my credit card information to start my free trial - which I could cancel at any time. But life got busy and I forgot to cancel. There are now new charges on my credit card bill, plus I discovered I am signed up for automatic billing.
Won’t do that again! Free isn’t always free. Here’s what I learned:
- Make sure you know the date in which you can cancel any future orders. Mark your calendar.
- If you are required to enter your debit or credit card number, then the offer probably is not free.
- Watch out for pre-checked boxes which may give the company the green light to continue the offer past the free trial, or sign you up for more products, auto-shipping and/or auto billing.
- If you can’t find the terms and conditions for the offer or don’t understand exactly what you’re agreeing to, don’t sign up. And if the offer is truly free, check to see if you will have to pay shipping and handling.
- Check your account and credit card statements often and carefully for charges.
- Research the company – how is its reputation? Check out some great information here: https://www.highya.com/articles-guides/how-to-tell-if-an-online-store-is-legit
- Be skeptical. Companies are in business to make money – so they won’t be giving away free items without wanting something in return.
What about fraud? Sometimes these free offers turn out to be fraudulent. If you suspect fraud, contact your state’s attorney general’s office or the Federal Trade Commission.
What happened in my case? I was lucky and the company reversed the charges. But I learned a valuable lesson and will be more cautious in the future when considering a “free” deal!